As the Seahawks prepared for Sunday's game against the 49ers, the punt team saw a particular look the San Francisco sometimes shows that might be vulnerable to a fake punt.
And only a couple of minutes into the game, following a three-and-out on Seattle's first possession, the Seahawks saw that look.
"Throughout the week, (special teams coordinator Larry) Izzo was telling us we've got the green light if we see this look, and they gave it to us on the first play," said running back Travis Homer.
Homer, who is the upback on the punt team, called his own number, and Tyler Ott's snap went to Homer instead of punter Michael Dickson, with nothing but green in front of Homer. Fullback Nick Bellore eventually caught up to Homer to block the only player left who had a chance to tackle Homer, San Francisco's punt returner, and the result was a 73-yard touchdown that provided Seattle's only score until the offense got on track in the second quarter.
"The big special teams play to start the game off was great design by Larry Izzo and Tracy Smith to take advantage of something they saw, and then perfect execution by the guys," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Then of course Homer does the score, Bellore, everybody did great on that one. That was just an amazing play."
"It was pretty exciting to see Homer take it like that, and he was so kind to slow down a little bit so I could get out in front of him a little bit," Bellore said. "You don't envision it working that well, but it's always great to see."
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Asked if it was exciting to see the look and know they were calling the fake, Bellore quipped, "It's more pure panic, but I was excited to see it actually work. You talk about doing it and weeks go by and the look never arises and then it was, 'All right, we're going to call it.' Then you don't really know until you get out there, and then Homer called it—of course he's going to call it because he gets the ball. It worked great. Doing something like that to spark the team is what we look for on special teams."
Homer's touchdown—his second special teams score this season to go along with a 44-yard return of an onside kick—was the most noteworthy play for Seattle's special teams, but far from the only big one by that group on Sunday. Bellore also forced a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, one recovered by Homer, and DeeJay Dallas had a couple of nice kick returns, including a 33-yarder to give Seattle good field possession on their first touchdown drive. Michael Dickson, who leads the NFL in punts down inside the 20, added two more, twice pinning the 49ers inside the 10 in the second half to help the defense hold the 49ers scoreless after halftime.
"They're on fire," Carroll said of Seattle's special teams units. "Mikey kicked the ball… He's freaking great at what he does."
Bellore's big game, which also included helping spring Adrian Peterson for a touchdown run on a rare play at fullback, was a nice bounce-back performance for the Pro Bowl special teamer after it was his penalty on an onside kick last week—he was lined up incorrectly—that negated a Seattle recovery that would have given the Seahawks the ball back with a chance to get into position for a potential game-winning field goal.
"Obviously, it was a pretty brutal week for me personally, after messing that up so bad in the Washington game," he said. "We are a third of the team, doing special teams, but you can't make mistakes like I made last week. You can't get it back. I think the only thing you can do is move forward like we did today. It isn't perfect and it isn't exactly what we wanted, but ultimately all we can do is what we did today. To get the win was big."
Bellore, ever the comedian, quipped that his forced fumble, "was just kind of super lucky. I just put my arm out there and luckily the ball came out. I would like to say that I meant to do that. Officially I did mean to do that. Unofficially, I was just glad to see it out. Then I don't even know who got it, I think Homer got it, which was awesome because, again, scoring on special teams, getting a turnover like that is huge."
Bellore also had a funny line for his block that helped Peterson find the end zone for his 126th career score, tying Jim Brown for 10th place all-time, noting that the two haven't really had any interaction since he now spends most of his time with the linebackers when he's not focused on special teams, and not at fullback, his position in previous seasons with Seattle.
"He was probably wondering who I was because I haven't actually got to meet him yet," Bellore said. "I went over for one play of walkthrough on offense and he kind of looked at me, and I didn't want to introduce myself. I was just glad to kind of help out anyway I could to get him in the end zone, because I think he passed somebody for touchdowns, which is awesome, because I'm really old, and he's even older. I remember watching him when I was in college, high school, all of that. Some guys were in elementary school watching him in the pros. A legend like that, you have a little extra juice for, to try to get him in the end zone."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers during Week 13 of the 2021 season at Lumen Field. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.