DeeJay Dallas’ first NFL touchdown didn’t count. His next one came with an apology. His final touchdown Sunday, well, that felt just right.
Dallas, the Seahawks’ fourth-string rookie running back out of Miami, scored two counting touchdowns in his first NFL start during Seattle’s 37-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
Dallas was the only healthy running back on the Seahawks’ roster. He found out Sunday morning he would start against the 49ers, after the Seahawks’ top two running backs, Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring), were ruled out. Travis Homer, Seattle’s third-string back, was limited by a knee injury Sunday and only available for a few snaps.
“That’s a lot of burden for one kid,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “and (Dallas) did great today.”
Dallas finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, plus five catches for 17 yards and another touchdown.
He appeared to have his first touchdown in the second quarter when he dived to the pylon at the end of a nifty 6-yard run along the left sideline. Officials on the field ruled it a TD, but after a review the call was reversed — Dallas had stepped out at the 1.
On the next play, Dallas was stopped for a loss, and on the play after that the Seahawks scored their first touchdown on a Russell Wilson pass to DK Metcalf.
“I was sick about the first one,” Dallas said. “But I had guys like DK and Russ telling me, ‘It’ll come back; it’s gonna come back.’ And then it came back twofold.”
Dallas officially got in the end zone for the first time in the third quarter when he was left open out of the backfield and hauled in a 2-yard pass from Wilson, giving the Seahawks a 20-7 lead.
But on the play before that touchdown, Dallas had missed a check at the line from Wilson, who had changed the play to hand off to Dallas. Instead, after the snap Dallas immediately looked to block, leaving the Seahawks’ star QB scrambling on the busted play and then absorbing a hit from three San Francisco defenders at the 2-yard line.
After his touchdown, cameras showed Dallas on the sideline going up to Wilson and appearing to apologize for what he later called “a slight miscommunication on my behalf.”
No matter. Wilson was effusive in his praise of the rookie after the game.
It was during offseason Zoom meetings that Wilson said he first noticed Dallas’ maturity and leadership, when the rookie would show up early to meetings. On the field, Wilson said he remembered Dallas making an almost-immediate impression, on the second practice of training camp.
“I got to talk to him before the game, I just said, ‘You know, great players they always have to start somewhere … and it’s gonna be today,’” Wilson said. “And sure enough, he played an unbelievable game. I thought he was lights out.”
Dallas scored the Seahawks’ final touchdown on a 1-yard run up the middle of the line late in the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 37-20. He took a hit and landed in the end zone flat on his back, but he popped right back up and dusted the front of his uniform off in celebration.
“It felt good,” he said. “I feel like I belong here.”
Dallas could be featured again for the Seahawks next week at Buffalo.
Carson injured his foot in the first half of last week’s loss in Arizona. He was said to be “50-50” to return against San Francisco but “couldn’t get going” during pregame warm-ups, Carroll said.
Carson’s status will remain day to day, Carroll said.