The Elephant in the Locker Room: Who’s the New Kearse?


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By Greg Wright

It’s almost December. And you know what that means. Traditionally, this is the time for the Seahawks to get hot under Pete Carroll.

In past years, the offensive heat has relied heavily on the run game and Russell Wilson’s arm… and his trust in a go-to guy like Jermaine Kearse, traded to the Jets prior to last season. And we all know how that one ended, missing the playoffs by the slimmest of margins. How different things might have been with a slightly different cast of characters!

Prior to last year, lest we forget, Wilson’s connection to Kearse was a major factor in late- and post-season success.

How could we possibly forget the NFC Championship game that earned the Hawks back-back Super Bowl appearances? Just before the game started, I called out to my wife, “Hey, Jenn. I wonder if the Packers are Kearsed?”

I guess we all know how that played out.

Kearse cradled the redemptive ball and refused to let Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams wrestle it from him as they fell onto the “W” of “SEAHAWKS” painted in the blue, south end zone. That, and two improbable touchdowns in the final 2:09 of regulation, sent the defending-champion Seahawks back from five turnovers and into the Super Bowl with an unfathomable, 28-22 victory in overtime over some stunned Packers at a completely off-the-hook CenturyLink Field.

Yes, Jermaine Kearse got the W. Boy, did he. Off the hook, indeed.

Of course, that was just the latest in a string of big plays for Kearse going back four playoff games. The string started in the previous year’s NFC Championship game against San Francisco. Trailing their nemeses at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson convinced the coaching staff to go for it on 4th and 7 with a “hard count” to get the Niners to jump offsides. They did, so Wilson and Kearse broke off the called play for the “free shot” down the field. Touchdown, Kearse.

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It was just the game-winning touchdown.

During the third quarter of the Super Bowl two weeks later, Kearse pulled off what has been described by some analysts as one of the best TD catches in the history of the Super Bowl. With the Hawks already up 29-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter, Wilson found Kearse for a 23-yard pinball-play of a TD in which 4 different Broncos bounced off Kearse on his way to the endzone.

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Broncos busted, bro.

In the second quarter of the next year’s playoff game against the Panthers, Wilson and Kearse connected for the longest scoring pass in Seahawk playoff history, a beauty of a one-handed catch of a 63-yard bomb.

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And then, as we all well remember in that Packers game, Wilson and Kearse linked up on a checkdown play for 35 yards, a miracle comeback, and a ticket-punching TD to the Super Bowl.

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And if not for that goal-line interception against New England, Kearse’s juggling flat-on-his-back catch to set up the final sequence would have been legendary.

All of this hinged on Wilson’s unshakable confidence in Kearse. Do you remember that, prior to Kearse’s OT catch against Green Bay, Wilson had thrown four interceptions on targets to Kearse?

Who has Wilson’s confidence right now?

Until the Rams game two weeks ago, I would have said it was David Moore, but he missed a couple of key plays in that one, not being on the same page as Wilson.

Wilson obviously favors Lockett, but I’m not certain that extends to clutch throws down the stretch.

Baldwin is back in the mix again, but even when he’s been at his best and Kearse was also on the field, we know where Wilson went when the chips were down.

Personally, I’m betting on chemistry between tight end Ed Dickson and Russell Wilson. We’ll see how that plays out as the game progresses in Charlotte… and as the season winds down in December!



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