One of the most spectacular plays from Sunday night’s Seahawks-Cardinals game was Seattle receiver DK Metcalf sprinting the length of the field to catch Arizona safety Budda Baker after a 90-yard interception return.
Horrible Russell Wilson goal line interception, incredible speed and tackle by D.K. Metcalf to prevent the pick-six. pic.twitter.com/Izvd3JrLeg
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 26, 2020
With the Seahawks close to a score, Baker intercepted Russell Wilson at the two-yard line and looked as if he would run the turnover back the entire way for a touchdown. But Metcalf zoomed down the field to catch him, tackling him at the opposite eight-yard line.
Considering how much of a lead Baker had on anyone close enough to tackle him (Wilson appeared to have the best chance, but gave up around the 30-yard line), it was shocking that he didn’t score. That shows how spectacular Metcalf’s effort was, looking more like a 100-meter race at the Olympics.
The NFL’s NextGen stats put numbers to what the eyes witnessed. Metcalf ran really, really fast (covering nearly 115 yards) to catch Baker.
D.K. Metcalf reached 22.64 MPH and traveled 114.8 yards to chase down Budda Baker on his 90-yard interception return (Baker's top speed: 21.27 MPH).
This was the 2nd-fastest speed reached on a tackle this season.#SEAvsARI | #Seahawks | #RedSea pic.twitter.com/nyX0Y16LQz
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 26, 2020
And Arizona wasn’t able to score a touchdown after four tries, so Metcalf did indeed save a touchdown. (Although the Seahawks did eventually lose, 37-34, in overtime.)
Someone who can relate to Baker being outrun despite his best effort is SiriusXM, Peacock, and NFL Network personality Rich Eisen. Eisen has been running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine for the past 15 years, first as a gag for television, then for charity. His personal best was a time of 5.94 seconds in 2016.
At the 2019 NFL Combine, Metcalf ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, a tremendous time for someone of his size (6-feet-3 and 229 pounds). That year, Eisen was timed at an even 6.00.
So what does 4.33 look like next to 6.00 in a 40-yard dash? On Monday morning, Eisen posted a video made after Metcalf’s 2019 Combine dash which showed how badly the receiver would beat him — even with the broadcaster getting a five-yard head start.
Don’t worry, @buddabaker32
I know the feeling. @dkm14 pic.twitter.com/aLElNcRU0b
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) October 26, 2020
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called Metcalf’s sprint to tackle Baker “one of the best football plays I’ve ever seen” during his postgame press conference. No word if Carroll had any comment on any of Eisen’s 15 40-yard dashes since 2005.
Would Eisen look better on video lined up with Baker? Maybe just a little bit? Baker ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine. So probably not.