The Seahawks are going so marvelously right now, they are killing it in two sports.
And they have a rookie punter now known in the locker room as “Big Balls Dickson.”
Tyler Lockett caught his career-high tying sixth touchdown pass of the season from Russell Wilson to erase Seattle’s only deficit, early in Sunday’s game at Ford Field.
Lockett then started what has become one of the more entertaining aspects to the Seahawks’ revival this month: end-zone touchdown celebrations among the wide receivers. This time, they honored the ongoing World Series. Lockett pantomimed being a pitcher hitting a batter with a baseball. He threw the football he just caught into Doug Baldwin’s legs. Baldwin, David Moore and fellow receiver Jaron Brown “rushed the mound” to avenge Lockett’s beaning. Wilson faked a fist to come to Lockett’s defense.
The Seahawks’ celebrating continued all day. Lockett’s was the first of 28 unanswered points into the fourth quarter of Seattle’s fourth victory in five games, 28-14, over previously the previously roaring Detroit Lions.
“We’re very versatile. I think we can do whatever we want right now,” Wilson said.
Including a punter freelancing for clinching plays.
Seattle sealed the win two brilliant plays near its own goal line late. Nickel defensive back Justin Coleman leaped for an astounding, quick-reaction interception near the goal line of Matthew Stafford with 3 minutes left.
Then Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson showed off his 10 years’ experience in his native Australian Rules Football, and his guts, with an unauthorized rollout from the back of his own end zone. No Lion was outside, so the freelancing Dickson ran 9 yards for the clinching first down with 2 minutes to go.
Thing is, his coaches had told Dickson he was supposed to run around a little to the right on the play to use some time, then run out of the end zone take an intentional safety, to get the Lions away from Seattle’s goal line. The Seahawks would still have been up by two touchdowns, 28-16.
Instead, Dickson took it upon himself to take off from his own end zone, without, he said, any risk assessment on what might ensue if he failed to gain the 8 yards, to the 11-yard line, he needed for the first down.
“Everyone was just laughing,” Dickson said. “I mean, who does that?
“It was just a weird thing to do. Everyone was laughing, and ‘I love you! You crack me up! Big Balls Dickson.’
“I was like, ‘All right!’”
Everything was indeed all right for the Seahawks. Has been all month.
For the fifth consecutive game Chris Carson’s decisive, relentlessly hard running set up Wilson’s play-action passing for big gains.
Wilson said he’s having so much time to throw these days, “I’m cookin’ steaks back there.”
The Seahawks’ young defense had Pro Bowl outside linebacker K.J. Wright playing in its front seven for the first time this season — and throttled a Lions offense that gained 248 yards rushing last week to just 30 on the ground Sunday. Seattle also forced three turnovers to go plus-10 in turnover margin to begin the season. That’s the best in the NFL.
“We were really able to play right within the framework of how we want to do it,” buoyant coach Pete Carroll said. “We were able to get the football, and we had no turnovers today — we took advantage of that — and run the heck out of the football. We ran the ball 42 times today (for 176 yards, Seattle’s fifth consecutive game with 100 yards rushing).
“I couldn’t be fired up at a stat than that. That’s just commitment, and it’s attitude. And it’s what we are trying to do.
“I’m fired up about this, really, whole month-plus.”
Also worth being fired up about: Carson doesn’t look “gassed” anymore, to use Carroll’s word after the Seahawks mysteriously ignored Carson in their loss last month at Chicago that dropped them to 0-2.
Carson romped again Sunday, for 105 yards on 25 carries. It was his third 100-yard game in 35 days — and first three of his two-year career.
Behind Carson’s bullish runs, the Seahawks are averaging 160.2 yards rushing per game the last five contests. If that was over seven games instead of five — if Seattle had just run it like this at Denver and at Chicago to begin the season — that 160 yards rushing per game would lead the league.
The opportunistic Wilson again took advantage of all the run support. He completed 14 of 17 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, with two sacks he basically took himself. After leading Seattle’s decisive, runaway second quarter, Wilson had three touchdown throws with a perfect passer rating by halftime.
Wilson has only one other win in his career in which he’s thrown fewer than 17 passes: Dec. 9, 2012, his rookie year. He was 7 for 13 in a win over Arizona.
The Seahawks (4-3) are a two-point loss away to the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams from a five-game winning streak entering next Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-2).
“That starts with the offensive line,” Wilson said of his five blockers who are thriving with more straight-ahead run blocking and fewer times to have to pass protection. “We can run it. We can run right at you. We can gap scheme it. We can zone scheme it. Obviously with the zone reads too, really, as well.
“We have so much versatility in what we want to do.”
After spotting the Lions a 7-0 lead after one quarter, the Seahawks had defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Shamar Stephen tying up blockers and stuffing Detroit’s running game. Seattle out-scored Detroit 21-0 and out-gained the Lions 168-42 in the second quarter.
“Even though we gave up the first score, it really didn’t matter to our guys on the sidelines,” Carroll said.
And that contract extension worth $31.8 million with $20 million guaranteed the Seahawks gave Lockett this summer continues to look like a wise investment. Lockett tied the game by gliding into Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson in the end as Wilson scrambled left and threw from behind the 24-yard line. Then Lockett accelerated as the ball arrived, a deft, veteran move to get decisive separation. Wilson’s pass plopped perfectly over Lockett’s shoulder for the touchdown.
The Seahawks’ fun continued through the ensuing Sebastian Janikowski kickoff.
Safety Tedric Thompson got run over by Ameer Abdullah but forced the Lions kickoff returner to fumble the ball. Barkevious Mingo recovered at the Lions 34.
Three plays later, David Moore tipped a confident pass from Wilson into coverage to himself. The ball went off Moore’s arm then facemask into his hands for a 15-yard score. It was Moore’s fourth touchdown and ninth catch in his last three games plus two quarters. It was also Moore’s fourth touchdown and ninth catch of his career.
“Our coach tells us that if the ball is in the air, it’s ours,” Moore said. “So that’s what we do.”
The Seahawks were about to go up 28-7 in the third quarter, after Carson ran 6 yards to the 1 on first and goal. Then Baldwin failed to drag his second foot inside the left sideline boundary in the end zone after a catch, for an incomplete pass instead of a touchdown. The Lions stopped Carson up the middle on third down. Then on fourth down with three tight ends Wilson scrambled then threw late to Nick Vannett for an apparent touchdown. But Vannett had stepped beyond the back line of the end zone before the catch, out of bounds. That illegal-touching penalty and loss of down gave Detroit the ball.
The Lions then moved with their first rhythm on offense since the game’s opening drive. Using screen and swing passes to running back Kerryon Johnson, Detroit moved to midfield. But then on third down, on one of many crossing routes by former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate, safety Bradley McDougald again showed why he’s been the best and most consistent Seahawks defensive player this season.
This year’s replacement for Kam Chancellor at strong safety lowered his shoulder after Tate briefly had the third-down pass and knocked the ball to the turf. The Lions punted on the incomplete pass instead of having a first down in Seattle territory.
“I knew we needed a play,” said McDougald, who missed a couple series in each half because he was sick Sunday.
By the time Detroit had another chance to rally, after a 19-yard touchdown pass by Stafford made it 28-14, only 7 minutes remained. Stafford fumbled and Frank Clark recovered, to go with the sack the Seahawks’ defensive end had in his first game in Michigan since the University of Michigan just down the road kicked him out of its program in late 2014.
After a Dickson punt, the Lions drove to the Seahawks 7-yard line thanks to a horrid pass-interference call against McDougald, a 56-yard penalty on a no-chance overthrow by Stafford. But Coleman then made his exquisite play in front of Tate near the goal line for the interception and Seattle’s second takeaway of the fourth quarter.
That, and the running of Carson, is, as Carroll often says, “winning football.” The Seahawks re-established Carson late in the third quarter on a drive that began at their own 25. Carson finished the march with a 7-yard bolt up the middle, and Seattle led 28-7 early in the fourth period.
Ed Dickson welcomed himself to the Seahawks in the second quarter of his season debut. Out the first six games on the non-football-injury list with offseason leg injuries, the tight end ripped the ball off the back of a defender in the end zone for his first touchdown as a Seahawk.
It was Seattle’s 12th touchdown in 16 trips inside the red zone this season, the best in the league. Last season, with huge red-zone target Jimmy Graham, Seattle was 13th in the NFL in the red zone, converting 55.6 percent of trips to TDs.
Come to think of it, nothing about this Seahawks’ on-schedule, run-first offense resembles last season’s helter-skelter, sandlot show.
“We’re rollin’,” Carroll said. “I don’t know. We’re jacked.”
Then, the coach added for about the sixth time this month: “I’m always going to regret the fact that we started lousy.
“And it’s a 14-game season for us to try to do something with it, after screwing up the first two games.
“But this a nice team. I like our team. I like what’s going on. I like the way it’s going and I like how they feel about it. It’s really clear, there’s no mystery how we’re trying to get it done. We’re not going to fool anybody.”