Late Monday night, former Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock saved Seattle’s season. It would be an overstatement to say Lock saved his own NFL career, but this was huge. In leading the Seahawks to a 20-17 comeback victory over the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, Lock made a comeback of his own.
In Lock’s biggest moment since entering the NFL as Denver’s second-round draft choice in 2019, Lock completed five passes on a gleaming 92-yard drive with his team’s postseason hopes on the line. The fearless Lock came through with aplomb, firing a perfect 29-yard strike to Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the winning score with 28 seconds remaining.
Stunning. Improbable. The Eagles, up 17-13, had a win expectancy of 90 percent when Lock and the Seahawks set up at their own 8-yard line with less than two minutes on the clock.
In his jubilance, Lock became a viral-video star with his sensational on-field interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the stunning comeback. Lock was passionate, emotional, funny, smart, humble and loaded with mature perspective. Lock praised his teammates instead of glorifying himself. He thanked injured Seattle starting quarterback Geno Smith for helping him. Lock was able to sum up what we had just witnessed and put it into the context of his career disappointment.
“It’s so hard,” Lock told Salters. “It’s so hard to describe the feeling of, you know, not playing for so long or at least what feels like a really long time to me. And then you sit there and you watch games, you wonder, ‘Can I do this still?’ I haven’t been out there on the field, that’s the human nature of it. You get back out there last week and I’m like, ‘You know what, I’m the man still, I can go do this.’ ”
Lock wasn’t sure if he’d start Monday’s game. “I didn’t know if I was going to play or not,” he told ESPN. “Sure enough, ended up playing, we’re playing the Eagles tonight and the boys around me rallied tonight, and it just, gosh, it feels so good. It feels so good. I’m so proud of everybody tonight.”
Lock flunked his chance to become the franchise quarterback in Denver, but the opportunity came at the wrong time … and with the wrong team. Lock wasn’t ready to lead a team that had declined into disarray and dysfunction.
When the Broncos acquired Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson before the 2022 season, Lock was included as a throw-in piece. He was competed with Smith for the starting QB job in training camp and lost out. Lock didn’t start a game for the Seahawks until Smith was sidelined with a groin injury.
Lock took over as QB1 on Dec. 12 at San Francisco. He passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice in Seattle’s 28-16 loss to a superior division rival. If anything he played better than expected and finished the start with a 92.0 passer rating.
Lock started again Monday after Smith was unable to go. The record-setting Mizzou quarterback hadn’t started two games in a row since the end of the 2021 season in Denver. Before stepping in as a relief pitcher for the ailing Smith, Lock had gotten into only two games as a Seahawk – both coming in garbage-time situations. He did not play at all in 28 games after the move to Seattle.
At 27, Lock had lost all career momentum and seemed destined to fall into the perpetual backup role. But Lock had plenty of fight left in him. Ask the Eagles defense about that.
“You don’t get many moments, you don’t get many opportunities in this league,” Lock said in the interview room. “And with every opportunity to you need to be as ready as you can be.”
Before Monday’s madness the Seahawks were spiraling, having lost four consecutive games and five of their last six. Lock’s timing was perfect. His team really, really needed this. And at 7-7, Seattle has reemerged as an NFC wild-card contender.
“We needed to win to get our spirits back up as a team,” Lock told reporters in the Seattle interview room.
Lock answered the call. He had sharp instincts in the pocket and took only two sacks all night. He completed passes to eight different receivers. He went 5-of-10 on the game-winning drive including a crucial 34-yard connection with wide receiver D.K. Metcalf on a third and 10. That throw put Seattle into position to think big and win big. His winning TD pass had Seattle rocking.
Rather than brag about what he did for his team, Lock put the emphasis on what his teammates did for him. “It takes a special group” he said, “to rally around a guy that’s coming into his second game of the year, right?”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Lock played “beautiful football” to stop the franchise’s longest losing streak in 14 years.
“We couldn’t ask more from him in that game tonight,” Carroll told reporters.
The Seahawks were five-point underdogs on the betting line. The point spread widened after the word got out that Lock would start in place of Smith.
Lock offered a post-game tribute to Smith. He wanted to make sure that everyone knew Smith’s important role in getting the backup ready for the enormous challenge of beating an Eagles team that flew into Seattle with a 10-3 record.
“The encouragement that he’s given me, the little pep talks here and there, helping in the film room,” Lock told Salters. “It was so cool that, when the roles flipped and I was going to have to be the starter, he did the same thing for me that I was trying to do for him. That’s just an unselfish dude, and I appreciate him more than words can describe.
“Talking to me before that two-minute drill, (he said) ‘You’re the best player on this field. You’re gonna lead us down this field right now. Go get it done.’ You know, just things like that, it’s really cool. This is a really special quarterback room.”
Seattle’s next game is at Tennessee on Christmas Eve. Smith will try to return as the starter but it’s too soon to know.
Lock will be ready.
It’s been quite a year for Mizzou football, and that includes Monday’s winning performance by one of the greatest quarterbacks in MU program history.
Thanks for reading …
A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.
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All stats used in this column were sourced from Pro Football Reference.