PITTSBURGH — Rookie sensation DK Metcalf had the first touchdown reception of his career Sunday afternoon, a juggling 28-yard catch along the left side of the end zone in the fourth quarter to give the Seahawks a 28-19 lead at Pittsburgh.
“I told him at halftime: ‘You’re going to win the game for us,’” Russell Wilson said after the Seahawks improved to 2-0 with a 28-26 victory at Heinz Field. “And sure enough, he did, pretty much. … He’s a star.”
Wilson’s first pass of the game was a back-shoulder throw to Metcalf for a 16-yard gain. Wilson’s second throw was the same play intended for Metcalf (it fell incomplete). In all, Wilson targeted Metcalf seven times Sunday, and the rookie has been targeted 13 times through two games (only Tyler Lockett, with 14, has more targets on the team).
Whenever Wilson saw Metcalf in man-on-man coverage, it was almost automatic for the quarterback to throw his way Sunday.
And that was the case on their fourth-quarter touchdown.
“We were in man coverage and Russ had enough trust in me to throw me the ball,” Metcalf said. “I just had to go up and make a play.”
Metcalf broke a 43-year-old Seahawks rookie record with 89 yards receiving, on four catches, in the Week 1 victory over Cincinnati. He added three catches for 61 yards against the Steelers, including the back-breaker in the fourth quarter.
“It was a phenomenal throw,” coach Pete Carroll said. “DK made it look hard, bobbling it around a little bit, but he’s really doing a nice job. What a great start he’s off to and we’re thrilled about it.”
Ansah sits out again
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah was inactive for the second straight week as he continues to work his way back into football shape following shoulder surgery a year ago.
Ansah was officially listed as questionable for the game. But Carroll said afterward that the team had basically decided late in the week that Ansah would not play against the Steelers and shoot for a return next Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
“Yeah, kind of decided late in the week that this next week would be his chance,’’ Carroll said. “Hoping he can pull that off.’’
Otherwise, Carroll said the team at first glance emerged unscathed injury wise. Guard D.J. Fluker was sidelined for a few series with a sprained ankle but returned to finish the game.
Carroll finally gets his challenge win
The third time proved a charm for Carroll when it came to testing out the NFL’s new rule allowing coaches to challenge interference calls.
And it proved to be one of the game’s decisive moments.
Seattle appeared ready to run the ball on a third-and-20 play with just under nine minutes left, likely then punting the ball back to the Steelers with Pittsburgh down just 21-19 when Carroll instead decided to challenge a non-call of interference downfield on Tyler Lockett.
After a review, the officials decided that Terrell Edmunds had interfered with Lockett, giving Seattle a 38-yard gain and a first down. A few plays later, Wilson hit Metcalf for a 28-yard TD.
Lockett said the call was a no-brainer, demonstrating how he felt he was grabbed by Edmunds and that “you don’t jump like this and turn by yourself.’’
Carroll had earlier challenged a call against Seattle when Mychal Kendricks was penalized for interference, which set up Pittsburgh’s first touchdown. Carroll also lost a challenge last week when he tried to have overturned a call against cornerback Tre Flowers.
But Carroll said those two lost challenges didn’t dissuade him saying of the Lockett play that it was “a legitimate opportunity. You know, the other one (the challenge on the Kendricks play) was forced a little bit down there in the first half. But that was a legitimate one right there (on Lockett). So you can see how it can make a difference.’’
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, said the whole situation left him somewhat confused.
“I disagreed with it,’’ Tomlin said. “I don’t believe any of us have an understanding of what the standards are once those things go to replay. I don’t know.’’
Lano Hill makes most of opportunity
Seattle’s secondary play seemed noticeably steadier throughout the game, which may also mean that Lano Hill could stay awhile as a starter at safety alongside Bradley McDougald.
Hill got the start at strong safety with McDougald moving to free safety in place of the injured Tedric Thompson.
The start was Hill’s third of his career and Seattle is now 3-0 in those games.
“I thought he did a nice job,’’ Carroll said of Hill. “… I liked the way we played today. I liked the style we played with.’’
Both safeties came up with big plays in the second half – McDougald an interception in the third quarter at the Steelers 40 that set up a Seattle touchdown, and Hill an interception in the end zone of a two-point attempt by Pittsburgh when the Steelers had cut the lead to 21-19 early in the fourth quarter.
The play meant Seattle then took a two-possession lead when it scored on its next drive.
Tomlin said of going for two: “We liked the call that we had versus the anticipated call that they might run.’’
Specifically, quarterback Mason Rudolph was trying to hit receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone.
Instead, Hill got in the way to make the pick.
“A huge play to leave you in the lead,’’ Carroll said.
Hill said of the play: “I just read the quarterback’s eyes, that’s it. He looked straight at him (Smith-Schuster). Just playing ball.’’
Rudolph said “I just missed him there. That’s on me.’’
It was the biggest play of Hill’s young career and also capped a comeback from a hip injury suffered in the final regular season game of last year that required surgery. Hill reportedly lost more than 20 pounds during his recovery since for a while he couldn’t work out.
“It’s been a long road,’’ Hill said. “You’ve got to enjoy the process. I’ve had my ups and downs, good days and bad days. It is what it is.’’