When Jerry Rice’s name came up in the locker room Sunday, Baldwin wasn’t about to celebrate. A historic stretch to some was just a blip on the radar to him.
Jermaine Kearse’s locker is right next to Doug Baldwin’s, and as close as the Seahawks receivers are, they had a disagreement Sunday.
Baldwin didn’t think his 10 touchdown receptions over the past four games were that big of a deal — even if Jerry Rice was the only other player to accomplish such a feat.
Kearse had a different opinion.
“That’s the definition of ballin’,” he said.
What Baldwin has achieved since last month’s win over Pittsburgh is in a class reserved for Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. In addition to tying Rice’s mark, Doug joined Cris Carter and Calvin Johnson as the only receivers to have multiple TD catches in four consecutive games.
Russell Wilson might be the frontman for this Seahawks winning streak, but Baldwin — who had four receptions, two touchdown catches and 45 receiving yards Sunday — has been the Keith Richards to his Mick Jagger. In other words — and this isn’t hyperbole — he has become a star.
Of course, ask Baldwin about his achievements of late, and he’ll have all the bravado of a monk. The man accomplished something matched only by the greatest receiver of all time, and afterward, you’d have thought it was the first week of the preseason.
When Rice’s name came up in the locker room Sunday, Baldwin wasn’t about to celebrate. A historic stretch to some was just a blip on the radar to him.
“That stuff means absolutely nothing,” said Baldwin, who also tied the Seahawks’ season record by catching his 13th touchdown pass. “I have had four games that have been OK, but when it’s all said and done it’s, ‘What have you done over the course of your career?’ ”
Perhaps that is the kind of perspective necessary to excel in the NFL, but Baldwin’s teammates had a different viewpoint. After Sunday’s 30-13 win over the Browns, you would have thought the Seahawks’ locker room was composed entirely of Doug Baldwin publicists.
From Kearse, to Russell Okung, to Russell Wilson, Baldwin received acclaim from every direction. But the primary praiser was Richard Sherman — Baldwin’s old teammate at Stanford.
Sherman has been somewhat of a Baldwin historian this year, rattling stats off the top of his head whenever Doug’s name is mentioned. He was also in Palo Alto, Calif., when Baldwin was relegated to the scout team his junior year at Stanford.
Surely Sherman — who was a fifth-round draft pick before becoming the best cornerback in the league — can relate to a guy rising mountains above expectations. So if Baldwin isn’t going to revel in the moment, Sherman will go ahead and do it for him.
“You can’t speak enough about how amazing this is for him. He deserves every single thing he’s getting, every bit of praise multiplied by 10,” said Sherman, adding that he thinks Baldwin is “that type of player” when asked about Rice. “He deserves everything because he’s had a hard journey … for him to have a season like this, there’s no one who deserves it more.”
There is a bit of poetry in Baldwin equaling Carter’s feat of four consecutive games with multiple TD catches. It was Carter, remember, who called Baldwin an “appetizer” before the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win.
Given how he also went undrafted, being undervalued is certainly nothing new to the 27-year-old. But it has to feel nice showing the world that he’s a full-fledged entree.
Few could have predicted the offensive transformation taking place in Seattle. For years, this has been a run-first team that wore down opponents one Marshawn Lynch collision at a time. It was also a team held to 13 points against the Lions and the Cowboys this season.
Now, even with Jimmy Graham out of the lineup, the Seahawks have installed an aerial assault that has produced 142 points over the past four games.
Baldwin deserves a lot of the credit for that.
Seattle still has two more regular-season games to play and at least one playoff game. And Baldwin emphasized Sunday that the only direction he’s looking is forward.
He isn’t anywhere close to being done. He isn’t about to stop.
And by the looks of it, nobody is about to stop him.
|Doug Baldwin is tied for the franchise record for TD catches in a season.|