RENTON — On Sunday, Seahawks punter Michael Dickson will return to the site of one of the craziest plays of his career. 

It’s known as “The Aussie Sweep,” and Dickson still can’t quite believe he pulled it off. 

With 2:18 left in the fourth quarter of a 28-14 Seattle win over the Lions on Oct. 28, 2018, the then-rookie took a snap in the end zone on fourth-and-eight from the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. 

The plan was for Dickson to run time off the clock and take a safety, but Dickson decided to improvise. With teammates and coaches looking on in amazement, Dickson ran out of the end zone for a 9-yard gain and a Seahawks first down. 

Once the Lions’ Cre’von LeBlanc and DeShawn Shead (now the Seahawks’ cornerbacks coach) tackled Dickson at the 11-yard line, the Seahawks sideline went wild. 

If he had failed, Dickson said the result of the play would’ve been “tragic.” 

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“It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but it worked out,” Dickson said. “I remember getting the respect from the guys in the locker room for doing it. Looking back, I can’t believe I did it, but [coach] Pete [Carroll] always gives me the green light. So if it’s there, I’ll take it again.” 

The week before Carroll had mentioned to Dickson that he was free to run the ball if he saw a gap. Dickson took his shot at glory the next game, perhaps a bit sooner than Carroll was expecting. 

“It was like he went against all tradition, all thinking and everything,” Carroll said at the time. “But he saw a situation, and he took advantage of it. And I think that’s what great players do, and they surprise you sometimes. That was truly a surprise. That was a great moment, and I was really fired up for him.”

Three current Seahawks had a different view of the play, in safety Quandre Diggs, Shead and fullback Nick Bellore, who all played for the Lions in 2018. While the Seahawks sideline reacted with jubilation, the Matt Patricia-led Lions coaching staff didn’t quite see the humor. 

“We all got yelled at pretty bad on the Lions side for that one,” Bellore said. “But it was pretty wild to see. … I remember him taking off, and I was like, ‘That was quite the play.’ I don’t think they had it called, I think he just did it, which is good for him that it worked. It’s one of those, it’s great until it’s not. It was kind of a crazy play that always gets replayed in the meetings, so I have to relive it all the time.”

Shead described his reaction to the play as “stunned.” As the player tasked with holding the edge for Detroit, it was a frustrating result for Shead, but one that earned Dickson respect. 

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“That’s why he’s a Pro Bowl punter,” Shead said. “Not too many punters have that mindset to be able to do that.” 

Since that play, Dickson has established himself as one of the NFL’s best punters. Over his four seasons, Dickson’s 47.5-yard average is the second best in NFL history behind only Shane Lechler. 

Dickson finished last season with an NFL-best 40 punts inside the 20-yard line and is second in the NFL this season with a punting net average of 46.7 yards. Against the Falcons on Sunday, Dickson punted twice for an average of 51 yards, with both of his kicks landing inside the 20-yard line. 

“Mike is ready to put together a great season,” Carroll said. “He had an offseason that obviously got him prepared, and he’s off to a great start. He moved the ball around, a real variety of kicks. That lower kick he kicked, that wasn’t a mistake. That was what he was trying to get done. He’s on it right now.”

Though last season was successful for Dickson statistically, it was tough mentally. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dickson was unable to go home to Australia for nearly two years. 

Dickson struggled with homesickness throughout last season but was finally able to go home in the offseason for the first time since he signed a four-year, $14.5 million contract extension in June 2021. 

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“Not really being able to celebrate that with my family or the friends I grew up with and kind of only being able to speak to them a couple hours a day on FaceTime, because the time difference makes it hard to talk to them as well, yeah, it was definitely hard, and something I hadn’t really dealt with before,” Dickson said. “But I dealt with it, and I think I’m better off because of it.”

Finally getting the chance to go back home provided Dickson with the mental boost he needed, and now he is looking forward to making his return to the stadium where he made the play that made him a locker-room legend. 

Dickson is excited to play again at Ford Field, both for the fond memory he made there and the because it’s indoors. 

He also will be indoors next week at New Orleans. 

“Honestly, any indoor stadium I look fondly at,” Dickson said. “I just like being able to play indoors for the next two weeks, and I’ll soak it up.”