Michael Dickson had the worst game of his young NFL career but the Seattle Seahawks still hung on to narrowly defeat the Arizona Cardinals and set up a playoff clash with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Sydney-raised Dickson, named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, had two punts blocked on Monday (AET) that led to touchdowns.
Cardinals defensive end Cameron Malveaux knocked the punt down and linebacker Dennis Gardeck fell on it in the end zone.
The other block came as Dickson punted from the back of his own end zone and the ball landed at the Seahawks’ 27-yard line.
That was the not sexiest punt of Michael Dickson’s Pro Bowl career.— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar)
The Cardinals took advantage of the field position and scored three plays later.
Dickson also had a 54-yard punt returned 45 yards.
The shell-shocked rookie was at a loss to explain what happened post-match, even if most — or all — of the blame laid elsewhere.
“I don’t know,” Dickson told the Seattle Times. “We haven’t really … I don’t really … it’s all kind of a blur out there for me, so I don’t really have much to say on it, to be honest. Not yet, anyway.”
The Seahawks managed to hang on for a 27-24 win against the lowly Cardinals who lost 13 of their 16 games this season.
Seattle will travel to Dallas to play the Wildcard Round opener next Sunday. “I want to be playing already,” said Dickson, who entered the game leading the NFL in net punting average at 43.8 yards. “As soon as something like that happens I just want to get more and more punts. I want to go out there and punt right now. I already want to be up against Dallas and be punting right now. That’s what it does (to me).”
Australia’s two other punters on teams in playoff contention on the final day of the regular season, Philadelphia Eagles’ Cameron Johnston and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Jordan Berry, had nervous days.
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles needed to beat the Washington Redskins and hope the Chicago Bears defeat the MinnesotaVikings.
The stars aligned, with the Eagles crushing the Redskins 24-0 and the Bears outplaying the Vikings 24-10.
The Eagles take on the Bears next weekend.
The Steelers also had to navigate a slippery slope to the playoffs but will miss the postseason unless the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans game which concludes later today finishes in a tie.
The Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13, but their path became unlikely when the Baltimore Ravens outlasted the Cleveland Browns 26-24 to win the AFC North.
Finally, the Indianapolis Colts ran away with a couple of late intercepts to snatch a 33-17 win over the Tennessee Titans for one of the biggest turn arounds.
The Colts started the season 1-5 after a 4-12 season last year.
It’s just the third time in NFL history a team has made the playoffs after a 1-5 start after the 1970 Bengals and the 2015 Chiefs.
This win on the final day of the regular season takes the Colts to 10-6 and steal the last spot in the AFC, where they will take on the Houston Texans in Houston next week.
2019 NFL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Sunday, January 6
8.35am AEDT — (6) Indianapolis Colts at (3) Houston Texans
12.15pm AEDT — (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Dallas Cowboys
Monday, January 7
5.05am AEDT — (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (4) Baltimore Ravens
8.40am AEDT — (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (3) Chicago Bears
Sunday, January 13
AFC lower seed at (1) Kansas City Chiefs
NFC higher seed at (2) Los Angeles Rams
Monday, January 14
AFC higher seed at (2) New England Patriots
NFC lower seed at (1) New Orleans Saints
Monday, January 21
TBD vs. TBD, NFC Championship Game
TBD vs. TBD, AFC Championship Game
Super Bowl LIII
Monday, February 4
AFC champion vs. NFC champion in Atlanta, CBS