Janikowski’s exit forces Seahawks to backup plan

ARLINGTON, Texas — Seattle Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski suffered a thigh injury while attempting a field goal on the final play of the first half and was ruled out for the rest of Saturday night’s 24-22 wild-card loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

With Janikowski out, the Seahawks attempted successful two-point tries on their only two touchdowns of the second half and had rookie punter Michael Dickson handle the ensuing kickoffs. They converted a fourth-and-5 from the Dallas 39-yard line before the first of those two scores — a Russell Wilson 4-yard touchdown run — though they might have been in four-down territory there even with a healthy Janikowski.

The play on which his absence might have hurt the Seahawks the most was following a late Wilson-to-J.D. McKissic touchdown throw, which was followed by Chris Carson‘s conversion run. Dickson attempted an onside dropkick into a vacated area behind Dallas’ initial line of players, but the Cowboys caught the kick in the air to seal the victory.

“I wish Mikey could’ve found a better place to drop that kick so we had a better shot at it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “It was unfortunate. We had plenty of time. We had 1:18 left. We get the ball right there we’re going to have a real shot at winning that game.”

Carroll said after Janikowski briefly left the Seahawks’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 that Dickson would dropkick his field goal and extra point attempts if the team ever needed him.

Dickson, who is from Sydney and grew up playing Australian rules football, was practicing field goals at halftime with Wilson holding after Janikowski was hurt on a missed 57-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter. Dickson is usually Seattle’s holder. Several of his kicks were hooked to the right, though he and Wilson embraced after appearing to end on a make.

After Wilson scored on a 4-yard run with 2:03 left in the third quarter, the Seahawks chose to go for two rather than have Dickson kick the extra point. They converted the attempt and went up 14-10.

A dropkicked extra point in a playoff game wouldn’t have been unprecedented, though it has been a long time since it happened. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame via ESPN Stats & Information, Ray “Scooter” McLean of the Bears successfully dropkicked an extra point following Ken Kavanaugh’s 42-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown during Chicago’s 37-9 win over the New York Giants in the 1941 NFL Championship Game.

According to the PHOF, Hall of Famer Earl “Dutch” Clark is believed to be the last player to successfully dropkick a field goal in the NFL. According to game accounts, he dropkicked a 17-yard field goal in the Detroit Lions 16-7 victory over the Chicago Cardinals on Sept. 19, 1937.

Dickson was named a first-team All-Pro and became the first rookie punter to make the Pro Bowl since 1985.

Seattle’s only points at halftime came on Janikowski field goals from 27 and 42 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Info, those were his first made field goals in the playoffs since Super Bowl XXXVII after the 2002 season.

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