After breaking free for a 73-yard touchdown on a fake punt run and recovering a fumble in Sunday's 30-23 victory over the 49ers, Seahawks running back Travis Homer has been named the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week honoree.
In the midst of a three-game losing skid in which the team had scored less than 10 points per game, Seattle got off to another slow start offensively on Sunday, netting just four yards on their first three offensive snaps. As has been the case all too often this season, punter Michael Dickson took the field ready to send the ball back to the opposition after an ugly three-and-out possession featuring two poorly executed screens to receivers.
With a 3-8 record, however, Seattle had nothing to lose and played and coached like it on Sunday. During the week of preparation leading up to the game, coach Pete Carroll and special teams coordinator Larry Izzo identified tendencies from San Francisco's punt return scheming on film suggesting there may be a chance to run a fake at some point. As a result, Homer was granted the green light to call his own number from the upback position if he saw the right defensive front to run it against.
Sure enough, even with the ball at Seattle's own 27-yard line, Homer noticed the 49ers had two defenders on each side opposite of the Seahawks' gunners on the outside. With those four defenders occupied and only six defenders in the box, he audibled to a direct snap from Tyler Ott and quickly rocketed through a giant crease off the edge set up by quality blocks up front from Cody Barton, Jon Rhattigan, and DeeJay Dallas.
Once he accelerated past the second level, Homer only had to beat Brandon Aiyuk and wisely cut back inside to allow fullback Nick Bellore to clean up the returner, springing him for the touchdown. As he crossed the goal line, he flipped into the end zone, drawing cheers from the crowd and firing up Blitz, the team's mascot.
"That's on the guys that picked up on opportunity for us in the study during the week, so we had to - you know, pretty cool call to go for that," Carroll said after the game. "You have to figure out how far back in the situation and all, and so I said go for it. Going into the weekend, if we got the chance, kind of wherever it was, if it was legit and we really saw it clean, then let's go for it, which we did, and happened to be the first drive and we're backed up and it was perfectly executed by the guys."
Coming out of halftime, Homer came through in the clutch on special teams once again. After Bellore punched the ball out of returner Travis Benjamin's hands on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, the third-year back out of Miami recovered the fumble at the 49ers 26-yard line. Unfortunately, the Seahawks couldn't capitalize on the opportunity, as tight end Gerald Everett dropped a pass in the end zone and cornerback K'Wuan Williams wound up intercepting it.
Nonetheless, the Seahawks held on for a seven-point win and Homer's special teams theatrics proved critical to securing a season sweep of their bitter rivals. He also made an impact on offense in the finest game of his career thus far, plowing forward on a 4th and 1 run in the red zone late in the fourth quarter to give Seattle a new set of downs.