Lock, filling in for Smith, leads Seahawks to emotional win

SEATTLE — Pete Carroll had his hat on backward, reveling in a thrilling win that marked the end of the longest losing streak of his tenure as Seattle Seahawks head coach.

Safety Julian Love had an ear-to-ear smile on his face, beaming as he broke down his two fourth-quarter interceptions.

And Drew Lock had a lump in his throat, becoming emotional during an on-field interview after leading the Seahawks to a 20-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles that might have saved Seattle’s season.

“It takes a special group to rally around a guy that was coming into his second game of the year,” he told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after making his second straight start in place of an injured Geno Smith. “They’re used to the same thing all year long, same cadence, same spin of the ball, everything. For a team like that — not just the offense, the defense — to rally around me tonight, man, that was amazing.”

Asked about the emotion in his voice, Lock said, “It’s been a long time. It’s been a long time.”

That was true for both the quarterback and the team. The Seahawks entered Monday night having not won since Nov. 12, losing four straight games for the first time since Carroll took over in 2010. Lock, meanwhile, had lost his previous seven starts dating to December 2020, when he was still with the Denver Broncos.

Lock put an end to both streaks in dramatic fashion Monday night.

Down 17-13 with 1:52 to go and one timeout, he led the Seahawks on a 92-yard winning drive. All 10 plays were Lock passes. He completed five of them, including three passes to DK Metcalf for 58 yards as well as a 29-yard go ball to rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who made a fingertip catch in the end zone for the winning score.

“Beautiful football, just beautiful football,” Carroll said. “The poise that we talked to you about last week, that’s where he’s been. He’s been on it. He’s been in command. There’s a couple incompletes in that drive; he came right back and hit it and converted and made the first downs. Then to throw the touchdown to win the football game, just amazing stuff.”

In his first start of the season last week, Lock threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He delivered a much more even performance Monday night, even if he didn’t light up the stat sheet. Lock went 22-of-33 for 208 yards and the one touchdown. He completed passes to eight different targets, took only two sacks and didn’t turn the ball over, though he overthrew a wide-open Tyler Lockett on a third-quarter deep shot that could have tied the game at 17 apiece.

He was still kicking himself for that miss afterward but was nonetheless satisfied.

“For us to come out tonight and play the way we did and get a win in one of two opportunities I had this year to start, gosh, I was excited,” he said in his postgame news conference. “I was emotional. I was emotional for myself but I was emotional for these guys in this locker room. It’s been a rough couple weeks. We needed a win.”

Monday night’s game was steeped in drama even before kickoff, with uncertainty as to whether Smith or Lock would start lasting beyond the announcement on inactive players. Smith was limited all week, still slowed by the groin injury he suffered in practice Dec. 7 but surprised the team with how well he moved during a pregame workout. He looked healthy enough to be active in case of an emergency — Seattle also elevated Sean Mannion from the practice squad — but Carroll went with Lock as the starter, saying he feared a setback in Smith’s recovery.

“Drew took most of the plays during the week,” Carroll said. “We really tried to save Geno as much as we could and not overexpose him because it’s been such a short span of time since the strain. We went out tonight to see could he play if we needed him to play. … He looked really good in the workout, but that was really the one taxing workout that we put him through. So we knew we could dress him and if we needed him, we could go to him in hopes we wouldn’t have to so we could buy him another week of healing because it was really too soon.

“It was a tough decision. It was hard as could be on Geno because we got him all the way to that point and then said, ‘No. Dress, be there if we need you, but we’ll go with the other fellas and see if we could make it to next week so you could come back and play next week.'”

Did Smith fight Carroll on the decision?

“Oh yeah,” Carroll said. “Oh yeah, we were battling. We were battling, but he understood.”

Lock said Smith is an “unsung hero” for the support he has showed him the past two weeks, calling Smith “an unselfish dude.” He said Smith encouraged him on the sideline before the final drive, telling Lock he was the best quarterback on the field.

“I think we hugged like 10 times in the locker room tonight,” Lock said. “He’s just so excited for me and I appreciate genuine excitement out of him towards me because that’s not easy to do, man. It wasn’t easy when he got named the starter for me last year. It’s not easy for him now watching from the sideline. I know the type of competitor he is. He wants to be out there every single snap.”

Carroll confirmed that Smith will start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans as long as he’s healthy.

“Yeah,” Carroll said. “Geno’s our starter.”

In the meantime, Lock can soak in a victory that keeps the Seahawks’ playoff hopes alive. According to ESPN Analytics, their chances of reaching the postseason jumped from 32% to 55% after beating Philadelphia. They would have dropped to 16% with a loss.

“I’m so thrilled for the kid, really,” Carroll said. “First off, it’s a memory you’re never going to lose. He’s going to hold on to this Monday night forever. He earned it. He deserved it. He played up to the great moments in the game and came through. … It’s been hard for him. Any guy that backs up that has the brain of a starter, the brain of a championship kid, it’s difficult as heck to have to wait. He’s had to do it. He has his chances and he almost put together a game good enough last week, and this week he did the whole thing. It was amazing.”


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