NFC West Writer
Playing without No. 1 receiver DK Metcalf, the Seattle Seahawks offense did not skip a beat in the team’s 20-10 home victory at Lumen Field against the Arizona Cardinals.
Metcalf was held out due to rib and hip injuries that limited his availability for practice during the week. But his absence did not impact the game, as rookies Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo helped to fill the void without the Ole Miss product in the lineup.
“It’s great for us coming around to the halfway point and to have those pups playing like that — they can play like starters,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters after the game. “And they did.”
The two rookies combined for eight receptions for 124 yards and two scores. The first receiver selected in this year’s draft, Smith-Njigba, got Seattle on the scoreboard first on a 28-reception for a score down the middle of Arizona’s defense with 4:47 left in the opening quarter. It was Smith-Njigba’s first NFL touchdown.
The Ohio State product made his first career start in place of the injured Metcalf and had his best game as pro, finishing with four receptions for 63 yards and a score on seven targets.
Fellow rookie Bobo, who was undrafted out of UCLA, also finished with four receptions for 61 receiving yards on five targets, including an 18-yard touchdown pass on a fade route from quarterback Geno Smith. Bobo was initially called out of bounds on the play, but Carroll challenged it. It was reversed and ruled a touchdown after replay.
According to Next Gen Stats, Bobo’s touchdown catch was the most improbable completion of the season with a completion probability of 15.9% and 0.4 yards of separation.
Bobo’s impressive play was a continuation of a breakout performance during the preseason for the big-bodied receiver.
“I think it was huge for not only Jaxon and Bobo, but our overall offense,” Smith said. “To see those guys continue to step and make plays, for their confidence, and obviously for the chemistry that we’re building together. So, I think it was great.”
Metcalf had been under some criticism for a series of personal foul penalties he had received over the last few games. Entering Sunday’s contest, Metcalf was Seattle’s most penalized player, with five accepted penalties for 55 yards, including four personal foul penalties.
Geno Smith throws two touchdowns for 219 yards, Seahawks win 20-10 over Cardinals
However, Carroll said Metcalf missing his team’s win over the Cardinals wasn’t a way out of the spotlight for the team’s high-dollar receiver.
“He’s hurting,” Carroll told reporters. “If he could have played, he would have played. Don’t for a second think that he’s looking for a way out of this thing. That’s not him at all. He’s sick that he couldn’t play, and he tried to stay with it. He’s played the last couple weeks under tremendous duress and played well under those circumstances.
“It just added up to be too much, and he couldn’t get it done. If he can get back, he’ll be back.”
Smith was solid, finishing 18-of-24 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns passes and an interception. And second-year pro Ken Walker III had a good game on the ground, rushing for 105 yards on 26 carries.
But the story for Seattle was the play of the defense, which held an opponent under 250 total yards for a third straight game and only gave up three points to the Cardinals after three Seattle turnovers.
“I feel really good,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said about the defense’s performance. “I feel like obviously we could have executed some things better. But overall, to hold a team to under 20 points and 250 yards, we’re moving in the right direction.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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