Even a special teams historian like Bill Belichick was flummoxed by what Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson tried to pull off last week.
After having a punt blocked during a Thursday night loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Dickson — a former Australian Rules Football player — calmly scooped the ball up with one hand and punted it again. With the Rams’ return man out of position after the initial block, Dickson’s second punt traveled nearly 70 yards before coming to rest at LA’s 11-yard line.
Though the double punt — which Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called “one of the great kicking plays in the history of the league” — didn’t involve the New England Patriots or one of their upcoming opponents, Belichick shared his thoughts on it during his weekly “Coffee With the Coach” segment with Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak.
And, in characteristic Belichick fashion, he used the opportunity to offer a brief history lesson.
“It was quite an interesting play,” Belichick said. “When I was going through and picking out the Top 100 Players and some of the old-timers, a fairly common play back in the ’20s and the ’30s was for the receiver to catch the punt and then turn around and punt it back on the same play, which of course could be effective because you didn’t really have anybody back there to catch it and the coverage team was all kind of running the other way, so obviously there was no return.
“But a lot of times, if they punted it 40 yards and you caught it and punted it back, it would go more than 40 yards. So when field position and punting on first and second down were used as field-position strategies, that was a double-punt play. But not by the same team. So that one caught me off guard. I haven’t seen that one before.”
Few topics pique Belichick’s interest more than special teams. Earlier this season, he shared an off-the-cuff, 1,500-word soliloquy on the history of the long snapper position that went on for nine full minutes.
Belichick’s team benefited from a different unusual punt play during Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans. An attempt by the Texans to fool New England’s return team went awry, resulting in Houston’s punter booting the ball straight into a teammate’s helmet.
The Patriots, who trailed 22-9 at the time, recovered and scored 16 unanswered points to win 25-22.