Every budding superstar has to have a signature moment or two before they join the conversation about the game’s elite players. We may remember Sunday as the night when DK Metcalf took the next step in his evolution as a bona fide No. 1 receiver.
Metcalf entered his second NFL season with sky-high expectations, and he posted 95 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons in Week 1. As an encore, Metcalf got the better of Stephon Gilmore in front of a national audience in the Seahawks 35-30 win over the Patriots on “Sunday Night Football.”
Gilmore, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, shadowed Metcalf throughout the contest. The Seahawks star wideout was more than up to the task, posting four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Most notably, Metcalf beat Gilmore deep on a post corner for a 54-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
“I thought DK really competed,” Pete Carroll said postgame. “This was a great game for him to go up against a guy like that. It will be significant for him going forward.”
Things got chippy between the two heralded players. Gilmore and Metcalf traded shoves at the end of several plays. On one occasion, their tussle spilled onto the Seahawks sideline.
“It was an illustration of two real freaking warriors that wanted to go at it,” Carroll said. “It was a cool part of the game inside the game that they were matched up like that.”
Metcalf called it the most physical game he’s ever been a part of.
“It’s a physical game, and we were just going at it like two football players,” he said of his battle against Gilmore. “It was a good opportunity for me. He made the matchup difficult, in my opinion – a great defender. Hats off to him. He made us go into some play calls to where we really had to look within. Hats off to the game he played tonight. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to go against him.”
Seattle prepared for Gilmore’s physicality throughout the week. Scout team corners provided exclusively man-to-man looks in preparation for what they’d get from one of the league’s top secondaries. New England put their top guy on Metcalf with the hope that Gilmore would be able to keep the 6-foot-4 specimen in check.
Metcalf’s production illustrates massive growth from Year 1 to Year 2. He was largely a boom-or-bust player for his rookie season with seven games under 50 receiving yards. After getting the upper hand against arguably the top corner in the NFL, it’s fair to say that Metcalf is becoming somewhat matchup-proof. That’s a mandatory trait in order to earn the classification of “elite.”
He’s been impressive ever since he arrived in Seattle. The Seahawks players and coaches have conducted Metcalf’s hype train before he even made his NFL debut. Metcalf, with the quotes above being a prime example, is mostly understated and happy to let his teammates do the talking for him.
Fellow Seahawks wideout David Moore didn’t mince words when discussing Metcalf’s standout performance against the Patriots.
“He’s probably one of the best receivers I’ve ever seen face-to-face,” Moore said. “When he’s in game mode, it’s kind of hard to stop him. The fact that Gilmore was going to have to guard him, the whole week we knew for a fact that it was going to be a tough game for Gilmore.”
Metcalf now has eight receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns through two games. It’s obviously still very early, but those numbers translate to a 16-game pace of 64 receptions for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns. Those are All-Pro numbers.
So while it’s possible that he falls off of his current pace, it’s fair to ask this question: Who’s going to stop him?