DETROIT — It was a play so deliciously entertaining and surprising that it earned two new nicknames — one for the player who pulled it off, and one for the play itself.
“You mean Aussie Sweep?’’ coach Pete Carroll said of punter Michael Dickson’s decision not to bother stepping out of the end zone to take a safety in the final minutes of Sunday’s 28-14 win over Detroit.
Instead, Dickson faked the punt and ran nine yards for a first down to the Seattle 12. That clinched the win.
The play was so audacious — Dickson admitted he wasn’t even sure that he had to get at least eight yards on the play, which snapped from the Seattle 3 — that it also earned Dickson his own new nickname from teammates.
And what would that be?
“Big balls,’’ Dickson said.
But then, who could argue that’s what it took for a rookie fifth-round pick from Australia to decide to run for?
“Yeah, so I was meant to run to the right and soak up some time before we took the safety,’’ Dickson said. “It was open. I thought, ‘Stuff it. Try and get the first down.’ “
Dickson laughed and admitted he “didn’t even really know how many yards’’ he had to get for the first down, but said he realized he’d pulled it off when he passed the first down marker at the 11-yard line.
He also said it briefly hit him that once he turned the corner “there was no backing up. So just go for it.’’
And what reaction did he get once he got to the sideline?
“Everybody was just laughing,’’ he said. “Who does that? It was just a weird thing for me to do. So they were just laughing.’’
Once he got the necessary yards, anyway.
Carroll said that some “superlatives’’ went through his mind initially, undoubtedly meaning expletives.
“It was like he went against all tradition, all thinking and everything,’’ Carroll said. “But he saw a situation and he took advantage of it. And I think that’s what great players do, and they surprise you sometimes. That was truly a surprise. That was a great moment, and I was really fired up for him.”
Carroll planted a tiny seed in Dickson’s head during a conversation at the airport in London last week.
“Pete came up to me and said, ‘When are you just going to run the ball?’ ” Dickson recalled. “I said, ‘When are you going to ask me?’ And he said, ‘Sometimes there’s a gap. Just take it.’ “
Carroll fessed up to that.
“He’s been after me,’’ Carroll said. “I said, ‘Sometimes you’re just going to have to take off and go.’ And the next time out, he did it. So, I don’t know. That’s something that a really good player can do. Sometimes the coverage, the return team takes off and they give you a soft edge and that’s what he saw. He was going to kill some time and took full advantage of it. So, that’s awesome.”
One coach not really in favor of it, Dickson said, was special teams coach Brian Schneider.
Dickson said he told Schneider of what Carroll said to him last week and Schneider said, “Don’t ever do that. Only at practices. And then today I was doing it and I was like ‘Pete said.’ “
Failure, Dickson knew, was not an option.
“Oh, man, I would be extremely embarrassed,’’ Dickson said. ”I don’t even know. That did not even cross my mind. Honestly, I knew I was going to get it, and I’m glad it paid off.”