The two most wowing Seahawks this season are their two Pro Bowl selections.
The NFL announced Tuesday All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and rookie punter Michael Dickson were voted into the 2019 NFL all-star game next month in Orlando, Fla.
The Seahawks also have seven Pro Bowl alternates: running back Chris Carson, defensive end Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett as a punt and kick returner, strong safety Bradley McDougald, guard J.R. Sweezy, quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker K.J. Wright. They go if selected players at their positions cannot or choose not to, which often happens.
Wagner is a Pro Bowl selection for the fifth consecutive season. The seven-year veteran has had one of his finest seasons yet.
He has 114 tackles this season, but has done so much more than most middle linebackers ever think of doing. He has a career-high 11 passes defensed this season. Three games ago at home against San Francisco he became the first Seahawk since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982 to have an interception return for a touchdown, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack in a game. He completed Bobby Wagner Bingo that day, filling every category possible on a defensive stat sheet: 12 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, two passes defensed and that 98-yard interception return for the final score of Seattle’s 43-16 victory.
Wagner has 890 tackles since he entered the league with the Seahawks in 2012. That’s second in the NFL in that span. The two-time All-Pro and Super Bowl 48 champion is the first player in franchise history to record seven-consecutive 100-tackle seasons. He is 95 tackles short of setting the franchise record currently held by Eugene Robinson (984).
Dickson has been everything Seattle hoped and more since the Seahawks traded up to get the native Australian and former Aussie Rules Football player in the fifth round of this spring’s draft. The first punter or kicker drafted in the Pete Carroll-John Schneider leadership era has justified the trade and choice.
He is the first rookie punter selected to the Pro Bowl in 33 years, since the Rams’ Dale Hatcher in 1985. Dickson is Seattle’s first Pro Bowl punter since Rick Tuten in 1994.
Dickson was the NFC’s special teams player of the month for November after 16 punts averaged 53.0 yards, with a net average of 47.4 yards. Both were league bests. He currently leads the NFL in punt average (48.9) and net average (44.2) for this season.
He became something of a national phenomenon for what he did late in the game Oct. 28 at Detroit.
With Seattle leading 28-14 Carroll told Dickson to run out of the end zone for an intentional safety on fourth down with 2:18 left in the game. The coaches decided Dickson would take the safety to keep Seattle up by two touchdowns late. That was preferred over risking a blocked punt and Lions touchdown or Detroit getting good field position to score one, since Dickson was lined up to punt along the back line of the end zone.
Instead, the rookie ignored Carroll’s and Schneider’s instructions. And common sense.
He took off running. He freelanced around right end.
Carroll’s reaction as Dickson took off: “A few” expletives, the coach said.
But the expletives turned to superlatives as DIckson ran free on fourth and 8 for 9 yards, to the Seahawks 12-yard line. Dickson’s audacious first down allowed the Seahawks’ offense to run out all but the final 6 seconds of the team’s fourth victory in five games.
After the bold--stupid?--run teammates nicknamed Dickson “Big Balls.”
And now “Big Balls” is in the Pro Bowl.