SEATTLE, WA - Trailing by one with four minutes to play in the second quarter, the Seahawks were closing in on the goal line and faced a 2nd and 4 situation from the 49ers six-yard line.
Working from under center out of trips right bunch look, Russell Wilson took the snap and pitched the football left to running back DeeJay Dallas on a toss crack sweep. With left tackle Duane Brown out in front as a lead blocker, the rookie raced to the sidelines and dove for the pylon, appearing to have scored his first NFL touchdown.
As Dallas started to celebrate in the end zone, players from both sides looked around waiting for a confirmation from officials and after a brief delay, it was ruled a touchdown. But replays quickly showed the back's right foot had touched out of bounds just before the football crossed the goal line and the play was overturned.
"I was sick. I was sick about the first one," Dallas smiled. "But I had guys like DK [Metcalf] and Russ [Wilson] telling me like 'it'll come back,' like it's going to come back."
Sure enough, while Dallas had to wait a bit longer to enjoy celebrating his first career touchdown, the fourth-round pick out of Miami returned to the end zone twice during the second half, helping Seattle finish off San Francisco for a critical 37-27 win.
Nursing a slim 13-7 lead early in the third quarter, Wilson evaded oncoming 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead in the red zone on 3rd and goal, first using a pump fake to make the defender jump before finding Dallas in the flats. Without a defender near him, he turned into the end zone for a two-yard score, this time choosing to spin the ball before being mobbed by teammates.
Then late in the fourth quarter, after San Francisco had managed to trim a 23-point deficit down to 30-20, Dallas capped off a methodical, clock-chewing drive by plunging in from a yard out. Extending the lead back to 17 points with only 3:33 to play, the touchdown all but sealed the victory.
While Dallas would have loved to have his first touchdown count, he managed to keep both footballs from the two second half scores. After admitting to reporters he received a "wake up call" missing a key blitz pickup in overtime during a Week 7 loss to the Cardinals, he couldn't have asked for a better bounce back performance in his first career start.
Crediting Seattle's offensive line for creating holes for him up front, Dallas simply said, "It felt good. I feel like I belong here, you know?"
Throughout the week, nothing changed for Dallas preparation-wise despite the fact starter Chris Carson as well as Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer missed multiple practices due to injury. He didn't know he would start for the Seahawks until Sunday morning when the team decided to hold out Carson and Hyde.
With Homer gutting it out with a bruised knee and no other healthy running backs available, Dallas played 54 of Seattle's 68 snaps. Shouldering the load, he carried 18 times for 41 yards while catching all five targets out of the backfield from Wilson for 17 yards. He also made several key blocks in pass protection picking up blitzers, learning from his mishaps the week prior.
Though he wasn't perfect - he missed a check in the red zone that hung Wilson out to dry on a broken play - coach Pete Carroll was encouraged by what he saw from the rookie and praised him for his stellar performance under difficult circumstances.
"We had one running back really," Carroll said after the game. "Homer just sucked it up and got out there in case we needed him in an emergency and was there for us for a few plays, did a great job. So that's a lot of burden for one kid and he did great today."
As the Seahawks transition into the second half of their 2020 schedule, Carroll indicated Carson wasn't able to get going and it remains unclear if he will be able to play against the Bills in Week 9. An injury update wasn't provided for Hyde either, as he sat out due to a hamstring issue, while Rashaad Penny remains on the PUP list and hasn't returned to practice yet.
Holding a 6-1 record and sitting atop the NFC West standings, Seattle may not want to force the issue with any of the aforementioned runners and could play it safe before those three players return to action. After showing he was up for the task as a feature back on Sunday, that could mean more opportunities for Dallas to impress in the near future in an expanded backfield role.