There has only been one made drop kick in the NFL since 1941.
Michael Dickson is still trying to figure out the mechanics — does he need to be at a normal field goal or punter’s length behind the line of scrimmage?
But this week, as the Seahawks prepare for their regular-season finale against Arizona Sunday and then what they know will be a game in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs the following weekend, Dickson is also preparing to make a little NFL history, if called on.
When Sebastian Janikowski injured his back in last Sunday’s 38-31 win over Kansas City, Dickson was asked to handle the next two kickoffs, doing each with a drop kick — dropping the ball and letting it bounce once quickly before kicking it.
Janikowski was able to handle field goals and point after touchdowns and also resumed kickoffs later in the game.
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But had Janikowski’s injury lingered, Seattle coach Pete Carroll says he was ready to let Dickson try a field goal or PAT with a drop kick.
“He’d drop kick, yep,’’ Carroll said Wednesday. “He’s dropping it. We’ve worked on the snaps and all that, so he’s ready to do that.”
No one has drop kicked a field goal since at least 1941, according to NFL records.
The last made drop kick of any kind was a point after touchdown by then Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie in 2006.
NFL teams don’t have backup kickers on active rosters, so if Janikowski were indeed hurt — Carroll said he’s fine and will kick against Arizona Sunday — then having Dickson drop kick is the team’s next-best option.
It might also be a rather appealing one given Dickson’s obvious abilities.
Dickson, who began perfecting a variety of kicks while playing Australian Rules Football before deciding to give American football a try and ending up playing at Texas and then taken in the fifth round by Seattle last spring and winning the job as the Seahawks’ punter, says he has put a drop kick through the uprights from 60 yards away.
“But that was different,’’ he said Wednesday. “I didn’t have to catch a snap and do it within a fast operation.’’
Therein lies the reason for the extra work this week.
While drop kicking has been just something to sort of experiment with in practice in the past, Dickson said he is working with special teams coach Brian Schneider this week to get prepared to actually do one in a game if needed.
In the immediate moments after Janikowski was hurt when he was roughed on a 47-yard attempt in the third quarter Sunday, Schneider asked Dickson if he could drop kick a field goal or PAT.
“I was freaking out a bit because I have never really hit a drop-kick field goal with like the protection and everything,’’ he said. “So we kind of worked on that (Wednesday in practice) and got used to it so I feel a little bit more comfortable now with that. Only really hit them messing around in warmups and during my kickoffs (before).’’
Dickson said he began practicing drop-kick field goals a little bit at Texas when he first learned they were worth three points (the little-used tactic remains in the NFL rule books as Rule 3, Section 18, Article 1, Item 1, stating: “a kick by a player who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground.”)
Dickson says he not only wants to get more comfortable with understanding what it would feel like to do with one with a full offensive protection and defense on the field but also figuring out the proper depth.
“We’re still kind of working through that,’’ Dickson said. “When we went out there we were going to do about 10 yards and try to keep the same kick depth (as a field goal). But I’m kind of messing around with doing maybe a punt depth so it would give a little more time to spin the laces and get the laces right. It’s a slower get off time because you’ve got to drop it and then wait for it to bounce and then kick it. Just trying to see what works best.’’
Dickson did pull off two drop-kick kickoffs in the game, one expertly pinning the Chiefs at the 17 but the other going out of bounds and giving Kansas City the ball at its own 40. Janikowski was able to return for the rest.
Carroll referred to the second one has having been “chili-dipped,’’ a golf phrase for not striking the ball properly.
Dickson said he’d never heard that term before.
But he didn’t argue the point.
“The first one was pretty good,’’ he said. “The second one, the bounce that I did, I didn’t get the right bounce. Just kind of sprayed it. I’m going to try to work on that. I didn’t really focus on it too much leading into the week because it wasn’t really part of the plan. But I will just make sure I am always doing it in case it happens again.’’