Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson had two punts blocked on Sunday, and both miscues resulted in Arizona touchdowns. Another punt was returned 45 yards. How will Dickson respond?
Michael Dickson was not amused.
The Seahawks’ rookie punter sat in his locker for several minutes Sunday, scrolling through his phone as rap music bumped in the background. There was a red scrape on his right shin, perhaps the result of one (or both) of the two punts that were blocked by the Arizona Cardinals. Next to him, 40-year-old kicker Sebastian Janikowski — who converted the game-winning 33-yard field goal — laughed and shook hands with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Meanwhile, Dickson slowly pulled on his shirt and pants — both black, as if he were in mourning — and then turned toward the waiting media.
“What do you take away from the two blocked punts?” Dickson was asked, after the Seahawks’ 27-24 win over the Cardinals.
“I don’t know,” Dickson said. “We haven’t really … I don’t really … it’s all kind of a blur out there for me, so I don’t really have much to say on it, to be honest. Not yet, anyway.”
“Had you ever been blocked in college?”
“Obviously you never want to be blocked. What does that feel like for a punter?”
“Awful. Yeah. Not good.”
OK, so Dickson wasn’t ready to recite a novel on the Seahawks’ special-teams woes, which resulted in 18 of the Cardinals’ 24 points in Seattle’s narrow win. That’s to be expected. But surely Carroll — the Seahawks’ ninth-year coach — could shed more light on the matter?
“Gosh, I don’t know,” Carroll responded, when asked: “What was happening with special teams?”
“We’ve got to go to work,” Carroll said.
If it were up to Dickson, the work would already be underway.
“I want to be playing already,” said Dickson, who entered the game leading the NFL in net punting average at 43.8 yards. “As soon as something like that happens I just want to get more and more punts. I want to go out there and punt right now. I already want to be up against Dallas and be punting right now. That’s what it does (to me).
“I’ve just got to be patient this week and not punt too much, because I get pretty competitive when stuff like this happens.”
Stuff like this. Stuff like Dickson punting from the back of his end zone midway through the second quarter, being partially blocked and watching the ball trickle to the Seahawks’ 27-yard line. Stuff like the rookie fifth-round pick sending his next punt 54 yards along the sideline, just where he wanted to place it, only to watch Arizona’s Pharoh Cooper rip around the edge for a 45-yard return. Stuff like seeing defensive end Cameron Malveaux get his meaty paw on another punt, which led to linebacker Dennis Gardeck falling on it in the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Stuff like this doesn’t sit well with Dickson, even if most or all of it was not the rookie phenom’s fault.
“It’s always a shock,” Dickson said. “That’s why I have a fast (punt operation time). It’s a shock when you have a fast operation and it’s still blocked. I don’t even know if my operation was fast. Normally I pride myself on that, but I don’t know.”
In the immediate aftermath of an unmitigated special-teams disaster, Dickson didn’t know much.
But he and Carroll both understand that more special-teams breakdowns could cost the Seahawks in next weekend’s wild-card game against Dallas.
“The whole field-position thing just messed this game up totally,” Carroll said. “We could have lost the game today just because of that. Fortunately we hung in there and didn’t allow that to happen.”
The Seahawks defense saved its special teams.
But an unamused Dickson is plenty motivated to avoid a sequel anytime soon.
“That’s what it does to me,” Dickson repeated, explaining the frustration that surrounds any perceived punting failures. “It makes me want to aim higher and do better.”