Breaking down Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson’s play of a lifetime

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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I’ve covered the NFL since 1984. I’ve never seen a punt—nor a special-teams play—as incredible as the Michael Dickson double-punt in the Rams-Seahawks game Thursday night.

Four things made it that way:

• Dickson, the Australia native, got the punt blocked late in the third quarter, picked it up, and punted it again, hurriedly, in an oblong grip. It went for 69 yards.

• It was the way Dickson picked up the spinning blocked punt. He picked it up one-handed, in full trot, to avoid getting buried. “My Aussie background kicked in,” Dickson told me Saturday. “We pick up the ball sometimes on the run [in Australian rules football].”

• The punt blocker, rookie special-teams demon Jamir Jones, was playing his first game for the Rams after 30 teams passed him on waivers from Pittsburgh a week earlier. The Rams, number 31 in waiver priority, got Jones. The drama never would have happened without that waiver claim, and without Jones’ play.

• The play drew a flag from line judge Mark Steinkerchner, who ruled Dickson punted from beyond the line of scrimmage. The replay official upstairs and the New York officiating command center both reviewed the play and the decision was made by the Ronald Torbert crew to pick up the flag because it did not appear to them that Dickson was clearly over the line.

The play was so nuts that one of the foremost experts in officiating, ever, ex-NFL VP of Officiating and current FOX analyst Mike Pereira, got the rules interpretation wrong in real time. “You can advance [a blocked punt],” Pereira said Thursday night on national TV, “but no, you can’t kick it again.”

I’ve been asking Pereira about rules for 23 years, since he began honchoing NFL officiating. He’s great. He’s the Oracle. Which is why, on Saturday, he was still crushed by his error.

“It torments me,” Pereira said. “It kills me. And now I’ll never see that play again.”

I doubt any of us will.

Whew. Where to start? How about at the 3:00 mark of the third quarter, Rams up 16-7, Seahawks with fourth-and-14 at exactly the Seattle 21-yard line. Dickson trotted out to punt and stationed himself at the Seattle 7-yard line.

3:00. Long-snapper Tyler Ott shot a perfect snap back to Dickson.

2:59. Punt-rusher Jones burst though the guard-center gap of the Seattle line. There’s a reason Seattle was surprised to see Jones in this position, and it’s because this was his first game as a Ram. The undrafted free-agent rookie for Pittsburgh got cut in late September. Rams scout Brian Xanders loved him in preseason tape, so director of pro personnel John McKay (son of Falcons president Rich) recommended they claim Jones. The NFL’s waiver priority system—based on the current year’s standings—went into effect after Week 3. The Rams were one of five 3-0 teams after three weeks, putting them at the bottom of the waiver priority system. The Rams were actually 31st that week in waiver priority, based on strength of schedule, meaning that 30 teams passed on Jones. Now he was sprinting unblocked toward Dickson. “I felt him,” Dickson said. “I knew he was gonna block it as soon as I started swinging my leg.”

2:58. THUMP-THUMP! The punt and the block happened in a millisecond. Jones smothered it at the Seattle 11-yard line. Dickson: “I knew I had to try to find the ball.”

2:56. Dickson ran to his left, toward the spinning punt. “I felt the guy who blocked it a few steps behind me,” Dickson said. Amazing: It was blocked at the 11, skittered sideways, and Dickson sprinted and leaned down as he got close. The ball was exactly at the 11. Would Dickson try to bat it 10 yards to the boundary, out of bounds, to avoid getting bashed? Would he try to pick it up with Jones steaming from the rear?

2:55. The ball was spinning like a top. Dickson’s right hand scooped it. He grew up in Sydney playing Australian rules football, with 18 players a side, and six points awarded for every side-swiped kick through goal posts. Dickson got used to competition chasing free balls. “I knew I had to take a risk on the pickup,” Dickson said. “I didn’t have time. In the Australian game, the ball doesn’t spin that way. It’s generally just on the ground, so scooping it is not a real problem. In the off-season when I practice, I play around with a football like an Aussie rules ball. They’re not exactly the same, but similar. And so I have been scooping balls off the ground—just not when they’re spinning like that. But like I said, I didn’t have the time, so I had to take a risk.”

2:53. Dickson wanted to run for the first down, but there was no way he could have run to the first-down marker at the 35-yard line. Four Rams were in a line at around the 23, waiting to bury him. So at about the 17, he prepared to kick it, Aussie style, sideway. “I didn’t know the rule exactly,” he said Saturday. “I’ve asked [special-teams coaches] before, and I’ve never gotten a [definitive] answer, but I figure even it gets penalized, we’ll get to punt it again, even though it’ll be from worse field position. That’s better than giving it to the Rams deep in our territory.”

2:52. Rather than punt the normal way, straight on, Dickson, straddling the 21-yard line, held the football oblong in his hands and took a sideways swipe at it with his right leg. Watch it a few times. The ease of the leg swing was striking, sort of like how Ernie Els used to swing so calmly and hit the golf ball a mile. Dickson: “In the offseason, I kick footballs a lot more like Australian-style, warming up, just having fun.” As Dickson took this easy swing and punted it oddly, Steinkerchner, right on the 21, threw his yellow flag. Clearly, the line judge thought Dickson was over the line. Meanwhile, the science of kicking a low line drive that way means if it hits the ground and isn’t caught or touched down, it could roll for a while.

2:48. The line drive hit at the Rams’ 30 and bounced. “That’s coming back,” said Troy Aikman on FOX.

2:47. Another bounce. “That’s coming back,” said Joe Buck.

2:45. Bounced again, and safety Ugo Amadi surrounded the ball.

2:42. Roll, roll. Amadi downed it at the 11-yard line. Blocked at the Seattle 11, recovered at the Rams’ 11. That’s a change of 78 yards of field position. Just a stunning turn of events.

“That’s one of the great kicking plays in the history of the league,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who should know, said later. He’s 70, and a football maven.

Eighteen seconds of a thrill ride, and it wasn’t over. Now the officials would rule.

A league source told me that both of the key administrative people involved in the adjudication of the play—NFL senior VP Walt Anderson, in the New York command center, and replay official Saleem Choudhry—thought Dickson’s back heel was very close to or on the line of scrimmage. Just like with a quarterback, the entire body and the football must be beyond the line for an official to flag the person with the ball for being over the line. This season, the league has added administrative duties and freedom to communicate with the referee between plays to the job of replay official. So Choudhry and Anderson could both speak to ref Ronald Torbert. And one or both apparently told Torbert the right call here would be to pick up the flag. NBC officiating consultant Terry McAulay, the former NFL referee, told me: “There was not a single angle that showed definitively that the entire body is over the line.” I watched it 10 times and it appeared he was over the line, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Too close.

Rams coach Sean McVay, during the delay for the officials to discuss the call, had the play explained to him by the officials. “They reviewed it in New York,” McVay said after the game. “They said his foot was on the line, he wasn’t totally over the line of scrimmage, so they said he could [punt the ball legally]. I said [to the officials], ‘You can kick the ball twice, huh?’ I guess you learn something every night.”

The confusion for Pereira came in the wording of the play, which says in the rule book that if a ball is punted once, crosses the line of scrimmage and crosses back behind the line, it cannot be punted again. But it is legal to punt it twice as long as the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage after the first punt. “It ranks as the weirdest play I’ve ever seen, because I’ve been consumed by it since it happened,” Pereira said. “I’ve never seen a play and a rule and a situation like that one.”

The amazing thing, to me, is that Dickson just handled this bizarre play with such cool. “Crazy,” he said. “But really, it was just like a normal Aussie rules play, something I’ve done since I was 9. What’s important at a time like that is to rely on your instincts. Don’t overthink. Just play like you always have. Stay calm. Do whatever you’ve always done to be successful.”

Good advice for life, and for executing a play the NFL has never seen in 102 years.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

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The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

Super Bowl food 2023: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert ideas for Super Bowl LVII inspired by the Eagles and Chiefs

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As the countdown continues toward Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are getting their game plans set. But while they go over their plays, the rest of America goes over their menus in preparation for the big day. When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything is always the best — the best teams, the best performers and, of course, the best food.

But how can you impress your party in the kitchen while showing support for your favorite team? Let’s take a look at some iconic food from each of the Super Bowl team cities to prepare for Super Bowl LVII.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII: Date, location, how to watch

Philadelphia Super Bowl food

Crabfries

Why have plain old fries when you could have crabfries? That’s exactly what Pete Ciarrocchi, the CEO of the legendary Philadelphia restaurant Chickie and Pete’s, said one day when creating this intriguing concoction.

While the name may be misleading, crabfries do not contain any actual crab, but rather a blend of spices and Old Bay seasoning that allow the dish to take on a subtle seafood flavor. Topped with a creamy, cheesy dipping sauce, the crinkle-cut fries are sure to take your taste buds to the next level.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes

It simply isn’t Philly without a cheesesteak. Keep it casual in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday with Katie Lee Biegel’s Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes, an easy way to rep the Birds.

Can’t get enough of the cheesesteak? Bring some more Philly specials to the table with this cheesesteak dip, the perfect way to amp up your appetizer game and leave party guests feeling like they just took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

RELATED: Rob Gronkowski predicts Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII

Water ice

Is the action of the game heating up? Cool down with a classic Philly treat, water ice. First originating in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984, the icy dessert is now sold in over 600 stores nationwide. The original Rita’s Water Ice shop, however, still remains open for business.

You can even show a little extra passion for the Birds by whipping up this green apple variation, sure to leave you refreshed and ready for the Lombardi.

Kansas City Super Bowl food

Cheese slippers

If you’re looking for a classy, yet authentic appetizer to bring to the table, there’s no better fit than the cheese slipper. This ciabatta loaf baked with melty cheeses and topped with seasonal vegetables and herbs has Kansas City natives hooked.

While the bread is typically baked to perfection by local shops, test your own skill level with this gourmet slipper bread recipe that you can complete with the mouth-watering toppings of your choice.

RELATED: How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs been to, won?

BBQ burnt ends

It’s rare to hear the words Kansas City without barbeque following short after. If you’re looking to impress your guests with your Super Bowl food spread, get out to the grill and start showing off.

While many cities in America know how to cook up some excellent BBQ, the combination of the sweet flavors and mouth-watering sauce has made Kansas City a hub for barbeque lovers for decades.

BBQ burnt ends, while a bit time-consuming, are  well worth a little elbow grease. The dish is also one of the few in Kansas City with a distinct origin story. The meal first found its creation at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a legendary African American restaurant in KC. Bryant originally made the burnt ends from the trimmings of pork belly, but since then, BBQ lovers have made incredible bites out of many styles of meat.

And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try fixing up some classic Kansas City sides to pair with your entrée to perfection.

RELATED: What to know about Rihanna, the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer

Chiefs chocolate chip cookies

While there is no specific dessert that defines the Heart of America, you can still show your Kansas City pride with these ever-colorful Chiefs chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure to have your food dye handy, because the red and yellow hue of these cookies are sure to show everyone whose side you are on.

Or, if you’re feeling artistic, design an eye-catching Chiefs jersey out of the fan-favorite rice krispie treats. Whether you make Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, you’ll have the tastiest Super Bowl jerseys around.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs:

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