For Tyler Lockett, it's all about the start

Tyler Lockett has become a game-changer on special teams for the Seahawks. AP Photo/John Froschauer

Steven Hauschka knows how Bears kicker Robbie Gould must have felt.

During the opening kickoff of the second half Sunday, Gould found himself one-on-one with Seahawks kick returner Tyler Lockett near the Seattle 35-yard line. Lockett accelerated towards the left sideline and went right past Gould, who was the last line of defense on the 105-yard touchdown.

"You don’t have much of a chance," said Hauschka, the Seahawks' kicker. "The only thing you can use is the sideline and try to make him cut back, but Lockett’s pretty darn good; he’s pretty talented. If you get to the kicker, it’s usually going to go. He’s going full speed through the hole there, which if you watch a lot of kickoff returners, not many of them do that."

That's the key, according to Pete Carroll, who preaches that for every step back by a returner, the coverage team gains 5 or 6 yards. While still a rookie, Lockett has mastered the art of catching the ball on the run.

Before the kick, Carroll told Lockett that as long as he could get a running start, he had the freedom to bring the ball out of the end zone.

"It started with the run and catch that Tyler did," Carroll said. "It’s such an effective way to start. He hit it on a dead run. It was a great start to the play. The blocks were solid. Ricardo Lockette had a fantastic block coming across. That was probably the most outstanding block because it was the most wide open, aggressive hit. But everybody fit it up just beautifully, and off we went. He beat a couple guys at the end just outrunning them. Our guys have been working really hard at this. They know they’ve got a treasure back there, and so they’re busting their tails."

Added Lockett: "I don’t know if it can get blocked any better. Everybody did a phenomenal job with their blocking, and it just made it easier for me to be able to go out there and make a play."

On the season, Lockett is averaging 34.3 yards per kickoff return, second-best in the NFL. And his 13.4 average on punt returns ranks sixth. Lockett is the only player in the league who has scored on both, and we're only three games in.

"Tyler Lockett looked like an All-Pro player," said cornerback Richard Sherman. "He’s making game-breaking plays almost week in and week out. As long as our special teams keep playing like that, we’ll always give ourselves a chance."

Jimmy Graham offered up a prediction about Lockett.

"Eventually people are going to learn you just can’t kick it to him," Graham said. "But until they learn that, he’s going to keep returning."