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Drew Lock provides a spark as well as mistakes for Seahawks in 1st start in place of injured Smith

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Drew Lock couldn't have scripted a much better beginning to his first start for the Seattle Seahawks than capping his initial drive with a touchdown pass to DK Metcalf.

The rest of the game was more up and down for Lock, who gave the slumping Seahawks a little spark but couldn't do enough to overcome the San Francisco 49ers in a 28-16 loss on Sunday that dealt another blow to Seattle's playoff hopes.

“It was a blast being out there again,” Lock said. “I’m trying to balance the feeling of just finally playing again, and how good that feels and also not getting it done.”

Lock got his first start since the final game of the 2021 season when he was still in Denver when starter Geno Smith was unable to go because of a groin injury.

Lock had thrown only 12 passes in two seasons since being traded to Seattle, but knew he'd have a good shot to start Sunday after Smith injured his groin in practice on Thursday.

“It’s something you always got to be ready for,” Lock said. “Something, you know, over the last year and a half hasn’t happened too often. Geno’s been steady as a rock. That’s just who he is as a player. This week it just so happened that I was going to take over reps on Thursday and Friday and come out here and play football.”

Lock was ready from the start, going 4 for 5 for 68 yards on the opening drive that ended with a well-placed deep strike to Metcalf for a 31-yard score.

Lock added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Colby Parkinson in the third quarter, but also had two interceptions on the day. He finished 22 for 31 for 269 yards and his first multi-touchdown game since Week 17 of the 2020 season.

“I can still play football,” Lock said when asked what he can take away from the start. “I can still go out there and do it. It had been a long time since I’ve started a game. I had confidence in my legs, confident to just drop back and throw the ball.”

Lock’s last start came in Week 18 of the 2021 season for Denver, when he went 12 of 24 for 162 yards in a 28-24 loss to Kansas City. He has made 21 career starts with 25 TD passes, 21 interceptions and a 78.3 passer rating before the game against the Niners.

Smith had been listed as questionable after tweaking his groin in practice Thursday. He came out early to test the injury a few hours before kickoff, but was made inactive for the game.

Smith had already been dealing with a contusion to the back of his right arm from the loss to the Rams. He appeared affected by the injury in the first meeting with the 49ers that came just a few days later on Thanksgiving night, but Smith rebounded to have one of his best games of the season on Nov. 30 when he threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns in a loss at Dallas.

The Seahawks have now lost four straight games for the first time in 14 seasons under coach Pete Carroll. That has erased a promising start to the season and has left Seattle with little time to turn it around and make a run at the playoffs.

The Seahawks currently are one of four teams in a 6-7 logjam in the NFC — a half-game behind Green Bay for the final playoff spot in the NFC.

“It’s a challenge at this point of the season to see if we can make it through,” Carroll said. “The fourth quarter of this season is still there for us and we’ll see if we can. I believe these guys are going to bounce back and be ready to go again. We’ve got to get back on track.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

Josh Dubow, The Associated Press