Before we get to the Unheralded portion of the Unheralded Player post, a short list of striking and frankly kinda weird coincidences from two games featuring your Seattle Seahawks, and their San Francisco 49ers:
|Game event||2013 NFCCG||Week 13 of 2021|
|Game event||2013 NFCCG||Week 13 of 2021|
|49ers up 10 in second quarter||x||x|
|SEA fumble at 1 sets up frantic final drive||x||x|
|Game ends on tipped pass||x||x|
|Michael Bennett in the house||x||x|
Bennett was on hand to raise the 12 flag. He’s seen it all. As one website’s account put it every so succinctly,
Everything is happening!— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) December 5, 2021
It was. We got treated to a 2nd and 43, a missed 56-yard field goal, two Seahawks fumbles, a fake punt touchdown, and Bobby Wagner picking off Jimmy G — all in the first ten minutes of play.
The game calmed down somewhat after that crazysauce first quarter, except Unheralded Player of the Game Carlos Dunlap still had his bit to say. Twice.
Dunlap is closing in on 100 career sacks. He had 88.5 coming into the game and has mentioned the milestone before as a personal goal. And why shouldn’t he? Only 57 men have ever gotten to triple digits, ever. That would be one hell of a career.
Except that in Weeks 1-12, Dunlap stopped tackling quarterbacks. He came into the tilt with SF sitting on a half-sack this season. His playing time had recently dwindled toward insignificance: 17 snaps two weeks ago, a measly four against WFT, and he only got on the field for seven defensive plays in this one. That’s why despite being the biggest name on the Seahawks d-line, he can still be unheralded. At kickoff Sunday afternoon, nobody expected the Carlos Dunlap Inquisition.
Seven snaps! But fuck did he make them count.
Dunlap got plenty of attention in the postgame locker room scrum, where he spent most the interview dodging questions about his reduced role, with graceful deflections. Kind of like his final play Sunday, you know. Watch it again, from the 10th row on the goal line. It’ll be like you saw it happen live.
And the safety sack — it’s been a while since a Seahawk took down an opponent in the end zone, just like it’s been a while since anyone mentioned Dunlap as a key player on the resurgent (?) Seahawks defense. This next angle is a cool one because you can see him steamroll/bulldoze/steamdoze/bullroll someone named Tom Compton, who pretended to be the Niners’ right tackle on the play.
Dunlap’s your UHPOG, and with good cause.
A game like this, with twists of fate almost too plentiful to count, necessarily gives rise to a number of under-the-radar heroes.
Honorable mentions therefore must be bestowed upon: Travis Homer, Nick Bellore, Sidney Jones, Ryan Neal, Rashaad Penny for executing a screen that looked like other team’s screens. You know, the ones that work. You could make a strong case for Stone Forsythe off the bench at right tackle. And Al Woods for his role in shutting down the potent 49ers run attack. And whoever else you want to name, I don’t mind.
Teams don’t win seven-turnover games without contributions across the board.
Let’s start with Penny, who had a killer cut block that bought Russell Wilson enough time to locate Dee Eskridge for a key completion. The RB starts the play in the left side of the backfield here:
So, so good. Inject this into my veins. pic.twitter.com/8sgTQnmKuU— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) December 6, 2021
Penny’s Seahawks career can most kindly be described as “uneven,” so it was especially gratifying to see him contribute meaningfully.
Sidney Jones has done little so far to endear himself to fans and coaches, and split time at LCB with Bless Austin on Sunday, but he combined with Neal to make the second-down-and-goal tackle on the 49ers’ final drive. Then he played some, shall we say, intense defense on third down to deny a completion in the end zone.
Sidney Jones agarrou descaradamente... pic.twitter.com/AvbK06AHrm— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) December 6, 2021
Jones is getting roasted by biased and unbiased observers for interfering with Trent Sherfield. I don’t see it exactly that way. A) The officials don’t want to call anything in this situation if they don’t have to call it. B) As a vet, Jones is aware of this. C) So the corner plays as close as possible and keeps his head turned toward the ball, daring the ref to make a judgment call that tips the scales toward one team over the other. D) Jones wins the gamble. E) Even if the flag does come out, Jones can rest easy, knowing he made the right decision to deny the touchdown and give his teammates another chance at a stop.
Oh, by the way, Jones also gave up only two catches on three targets all day.
Not much to say about Bellore that hasn’t already been said. Man is the foundation of Seattle special teams. And Travis Homer hit an actual homer.
Homer also recovered the fumble Bellore forced and converted a red zone fourth and one to set up Gerald Everett’s final untimely miscue.
So many big plays, it felt like the olden days. Speaking of which, I’ll be leaving you with this scene, from the 12th man flag platform.