October 25 marked the third anniversary of National Tight Ends Day. The holiday that started in the 49ers locker room has now become an opportunity for tight ends to shine, score some red zone looks, and celebrate their touchdowns.
Quarterbacks throughout the league celebrated the holiday, as Matthew Stafford lobbed the game-winning touchdown to his tight end, T.J. Hockenson. Rob Gronkowski had his best game of the season, securing an end zone catch that brought his glory days back to life. Even Russell Wilson took part, completing a collective seven passes for 78 yards to three of his tight ends.
Despite his tight end capabilities, that’s not what Wilson leaned on in a bitter 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals, however. It was Tyler Lockett, the most underrated receiver in the NFL, who swept the holiday with 15 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Russell Wilson couldn’t resist targeting Lockett for the first play of the game, in which Lockett stretched out for a falling one-handed catch despite tight coverage from Patrick Peterson.
In the NFL, it’s considered a sign of respect when a top cornerback is assigned to cover you, as it means your talent rivals theirs. The fact that Lockett found opportunity despite heavy coverage from Peterson not only shows that NFL teams realize he’s a threat, but he’s one that their premier players struggle against.
Sunday’s game put the receiver’s talents on full display. He secured first downs while keeping his feet inbounds along the sideline, caught calculated passes in the smallest of windows, and juked for plenty of yards after the catch. Oh, and he also scored three touchdowns. With Lockett alone, the Seahawks traveled the length of the field twice and scored 18 points. As much as Wilson is a winner, so is his No. 1 receiver.
Lockett’s most impressive grab of the game was much like his first one. He beat Patrick Peterson for another falling, one-handed catch that fell right into his hand. More importantly, this was a 47-yard pass that landed in the end zone for a touchdown.
This grab, along with another toe-tapper in the end zone on fourth down in the fourth quarter, add to an impressive resume that includes 2019’s “best catch of the year.”
After an MVP-worthy performance this week, Seahawks fans can only hope that Lockett starts to get the credit he deserves throughout the league. Lockett deserves the same attention as Saints wideout Michael Thomas, and the stats prove it. He was right behind Thomas as the second-best pass catcher last season with a catch rate of 74.5 percent.
Whether it’s because the Seahawks are passing more than years past or because they’ve quickly become a weekly power ranking favorite, the connection between Wilson and Lockett is stronger than ever. In fact, it’s actually quantifiable: in 49 attempts, Wilson has completed 45 passes to Lockett for 542 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. His passer rating of 138.0 to Lockett is the best in the NFL for quarterback/receiver tandems.
If Wilson does win MVP this season, it’s due in part to Lockett, who is making a case for All-Pro consideration. Lockett has accomplished more than enough to merit these accolades, but if he continues to fly under the radar, his 200-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 7 will likely remain unrivaled this season.