Let’s see, there were the 100 touchdown catches, the 819 receptions and the 13,089 receiving yards.
In the litany of statistics Steve Largent compiled during his Hall of Fame career with the Seahawks, those are the most lasting – and each was the NFL’s all-time record when he retired after the 1989 season.
The favorite double-take entry on his resume always has been the fact that Largent led the team in receptions for 12 consecutive seasons (1976-1987). Think about that for a second. The club has had 12 other players lead the team in receptions in the 23 seasons since Largent’s streak was snapped – Brian Blades (five times), Darrel Jackson (four), John L. Williams (three), Joey Galloway (three), Bobby Engram (two), Derrick Mayes, Koren Robinson, John Carlson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Mike Williams (one each) and Sean Dawkins and Ricky Watters (shared the lead).
The favorite until now, that is. While doing some research for something that is only partially Largent related, this new are-you-kidding-me nugget was uncovered: In 1979, when Largent scored nine touchdowns, he averaged 36.3 yards on those scoring plays; and in 1978, when he had eight TDs, the average per scoring play was 36.1.
Largent also soared around the 30-yard average in 1980 (30.2 on six scoring catches); 1977 (28.3 on 10 scoring catches); and 1981 (27.1 on nine scoring catches).
This from the receiver that former Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes used to jokingly refer to as “The Caucasian Clydesdale.”
Unbelievable. Unfathomable. Unheard of. Underrated.
Even for someone with Largent’s lengthy list of achievements, those scoring averages burst through the barricades of previous perceptions to present a whole new avenue in dissecting the greatness that was Steve Largent. In fact, after Largent torched Hayes and the Raiders one season, the loquacious Lester altered his every-mention moniker to “The Great Steve Largent” the following season.
But wait, there’s more. When Largent caught his career-high 12 TD passes in 1984, they came in just 10 games. That’s right. He didn’t have a scoring catch in the first four games, or the final two.
Yes, 49 of his 100 scoring catches went for 19 or fewer yards, but he also had 17 from 20-29 yards, 19 from 30-39, nine from 40-49 and six of 50-plus – including a 74-yarder and a 67-yarder.
Here’s a look at how Largent compiled those 100 TD catches, and his average on the scoring plays in each season:
1976: 4 touchdowns, 7.5-yard average
1977: 10 touchdowns, 28.3-yard average
1978: 8 touchdowns, 36.1-yard average
1979: 9 touchdowns, 36.3-yard average
1980: 6 touchdowns, 30.2-yard average
1981: 9 touchdowns, 27.1-yard average
1982: 3 touchdowns, 15.3-yard average
1983: 11 touchdowns, 25.4-yard average
1984: 12 touchdowns, 17.5-yard average
1985: 6 touchdowns, 11.2-yard average
1986: 9 touchdowns, 16.4-yard average
1987: 8 touchdowns, 16.3-yard average
1988: 2 touchdowns, 25.0-yard average
1989: 3 touchdowns, 21.3-yard average
Put it all together and what do you get? An average of 23.5 yards on 100 touchdown catches – with the average ballooned to 31.5 yards on 42 TD catches from 1977-81.