It’s not hard to figure out who the players of the game are, especially in a convincing (what the heck?) road win for your undefeated Seattle Seahawks.
There were the two touchdowns, both spectacular, logged by Tyler Lockett, past, present and future legend. He’s still good. Russell Wilson had a pretty decent outing himself, one that brought comparisons — again — to Peyton, Favre, Brady, you know, his usual historic company. The whole defensive line, too; they were on point, if by “point,” I mean needling Carson Wentz incessantly until he turned back into a pumpkin.
We know who the obvious stars were. In this space every week, count on seeing plaudits/kudos/props for a Seahawk who distinguished himself and didn’t have reporters flocking to his locker in the postgame scrum. I’m thinking there will be recognition for offensive linemen, special teamers, fourth wide receivers and nickel corners galore, and occasionally even the superstar who went about his usual excellent business without putting up any numbers that specific week.
He’s called the UHPOG, for UnHeralded Player Of the Game. If you’ll allow me a bit of a ceremonial drum roll, and pretend you didn’t see the picture by the headline, the original recipient is
K.J. Wright Michael Dickson.
Now hold on hold on hold on — wouldn’t the Seahawks have won the game, and handily at that, without Dickson? Perhaps. I mean, they were in control, up two scores the entire second half. But there are five events where the Seattle All-Pro punter made sure the Colts wouldn’t be let back into it, at all, not on his watch.
The first one is highlight-reel worthy and can be watched on loop for as long as your phone/laptop battery allows.
Remember that Carson Wentz had just finished carving up the Seahawks defense for a fairly straightforward TD on the previous drive, cutting the lead to 14-10. A turnover could've or would've changed the game. Number 30 has Dickson's jersey in hand even! pic.twitter.com/XoETaM0PvY— John Fraley (@johndavidfraley) September 14, 2021
If Dickson doesn’t slither away from the oncoming Colts rush, and somehow (how, exactly?) get the kick off in the right direction, Indy takes over on the Seattle 40, down just four points and having moved the ball well on two of their three drives. Instead they have to settle for starting on their own 33 and don’t cross midfield.
Dicko’s most spectacular work came in the first half, yet his most consistent came in the second.
I mentioned the effort of the Seattle pass rushers earlier, and their 10 QB hits. When your defensive linemen are living in the quarterback’s jock, it makes it near impossible to conduct an 85-yard drive. You just can’t string enough positive plays together to score regularly. In fact, the only time the Colts did put points on the board in the second half, those came aided and abetted by a defensive pass interference call on an uncatchable throw.
So, when Dickson pins a struggling offense four times, that’s like adding an extra sack or two to the ledger. (Look out Alton Robinson, Aussie Rules Dickson is coming for your job next.)
QTR 3, Punt 2: to the IND 5, seven yard return
QTR 3, Punt 3: to the IND 15, no return
QTR 3, Punt 4: to the IND 14, no return
QTR 4, Punt 5: to the IND 10, no return
In the second half, the Colts’ average starting field position following Dickson punts was their own 13. Their average return yardage was 1.8.
One thing I liked about the first second-half punt was its angle. The Colts returner was pinned to the sideline, which naturally made the coverage team’s job easier. Helps of course that Ryan Neal, Jon Rhattigan and Travis Homer came through too.
Dickson's second punt won't make any highlight reels but look at its depth and angle -- the returner must backpedal toward the sideline at his own 5 to field it. Not ideal, for him.— John Fraley (@johndavidfraley) September 14, 2021
Ryan Neal is there first. Travis Homer and Jon Rhattigan ensure the return remains insignificant. pic.twitter.com/tVR1UsNcfa
Dickson’s 37-yard average won’t get any attention if all you do is look at stats, but I’d be surprised if any punter had a much better Week 1 than him. And we know the Cleveland Browns guy (household name Jamie Gillan) certainly did not.
It’s a testament to Dickson’s track record that he can deposit four punts in prime territory and avert what looked like a certain turnover by running away from very fast men, and fans nod politely, as if to say, not bad, good game, good game. Because there’ll probably come a Sunday later this season when his exploits literally save the day. Until then, congrats to Dicko on being our maiden UHPOG.