Kickers and punters are people too! Okay maybe they aren’t flashy but, they can no doubt win you or lose you games. Lets take a look at the Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein and their punter Johnny Hekker.
Coming into the new season there was some serious whether or not the Zuerlein we saw the beginning of his rookie year would ever come to form but he’s hit four of four this season for a perfect 100 percent success rate. The real big worry was how would Greg the Leg do in non-indoor stadiums. He certainly struggled last season on grass hitting only 58.8% of kicks. That is pitiful and especially for the standards Legatron has set over the course of his career.
In the game versus Tampa Bay, Rams fans were reminded how imperative it is to have an accurate and reliable kicker. We saw first hand Zuerlein single handedly scored all the points in the Rams win in the Coliseum versus the Seahawks. We also saw Roberto Aguayo’s missed extra point and field goal came back to bite the Buccaneers in the end. Had Aguayo not missed the field goal earlier in the game the Buccaneers likely could have just had him kick a field goal to win the game instead of having to score a touchdown on the final play.
Of course Zuerlein isn’t the only one doing his job. The most valuable punter in the league Johnny Hekker has had his fair share of saves for the Rams. He can do it all including throw passes down the field. Hekker already has the most punts inside the 20-yard line with 12. He is tied for the most punts in the league with 21 and is among the top 10 in just about every category of punting. What is more impressive besides his zero touchbacks?
He likely won the game for the Rams in Tampa Bay. Why do I say that? Well, for starters Hekker punted five times for 256 yards which is an average of 51.2 yards per punt. If you don’t know how that stacks up in the league, it’s pretty insane to say the least. Two of those five were inside the 20-yard line, two were returned and one was fair caught.
Hekker’s presence can’t be stressed enough though. During the Rams and Buccaneers weather delay it poured. The Rams came back out and took a shot down the field which fell incomplete and that meant from their own five-yard line Hekker had to put which was from his own end zone. He didn’t just have to pin the Buccaneers deep for their final drive that could potentially win the game. No, he had to put a sloppy wet ball and he did, 64 yards to be exact. If he had shanked it or only punted it 50 yards the game likely would have been over and the Rams would have lost. Winston and company ran out of time but managed to get deep down in the Rams territory.
Score one for the specialists, hopefully they can continue their dominance into Arizona and beyond this season the Rams are going to need it.