ARLINGTON, Texas—When Justin Coleman returned an interception for a touchdown in Seattle's Week 4 win over the Indianapolis Colts, it was a moment mostly celebrated by coaches and teammates, but at least one player, fellow cornerback Richard Sherman, had one minor complaint with the big play: Coleman didn't have much of a celebration ready for the first touchdown of his NFL career.
Twelve weeks later while looking around the AT&T Stadium prior to Sunday's game against the Cowboys, Coleman saw the giant Salvation Army kettles behind the end zone and decided he would be ready with something special should he happen to find the end zone again.
And sure enough, when a Dak Prescott pass sailed over Ezekiel Elliott in the third quarter, Coleman found himself with the football in his hands, racing for the end zone for the second time this season. And without hesitation, Coleman leapt into the bucket, recreating a celebration Elliott himself had done last year, then tossed the ball in the air while Frank Clark ran over to celebrate with him. The celebration did draw a flag—apparently jumping into a giant kettle constitutes using a prop to celebrate a score—but the pick-six was also one of the most important plays of the day in Seattle's 21-12 victory over the Cowboys.
"I was telling the guys if I get a pick-six, I was going to jump in the kettle and throw the ball out," Coleman said. "I told them, that's what's going to happen. Earlier in the season, they told me I didn't have a celebration and I needed to work on it. That's the first thing that came to my mind, 'Oh, we're in Dallas, I see the kettle, it's about time for me to do something.'"
The celebration was both memorable and humorous, but the play itself was a massive one for Seattle, which trailed by three points when the ball left Prescott's hands, and which led the rest of the way following Coleman's score.
"It was clutch, right on time," safety Earl Thomas said. "A big momentum shift. To see him jump into the Salvation Army (kettle), that was wild."
Coleman's interception, one of Seattle's three takeaways on Sunday, wasn't his only noteworthy play in the game. In addition to play his usual sticky coverage as Seattle's nickel corner, he also was effective as a pass rusher with defensive coordinator Kris Richard dialing up multiple blitz calls on third down. In addition to Shaquill Griffin getting a sack on one of those blitzes, Coleman pressured Prescott twice, both times resulting incomplete passes and the Cowboys having to punt.
Sunday's performance was just the latest in a season full of strong play from Coleman, who came to Seattle in a preseason trade that sent a seventh-round pick to New England.
"He's had a terrific year for us," said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. "Again, I go back to John (Schneider) figuring it out with his guys, picking him out of the numbers of guys that are out there that could fit us and do well, and he did a terrific job for us today. He's been good for us all year… He's been effective all year long. He's been really good. He's just a really good nickel cover guy. Terrific skills and timing, competitiveness. He was battling against some really good guys today, and held up really well."