Week Ten featured some critical plays from the special teams units across the NFL. Heading into this week’s action, there had been 14 punt blocks, after only nine all of last season. The Bucs added another to that growing total this week, with a key punt block against the Chargers that helped turn the game in the Bucs favor. The Jets and Redskins have each had two punts blocked already this year. The NFL record for blocks in a season is 31 in 1977.
Other key special teams plays this week included two punt fakes executed for first downs by the Rams against the Niners and a fake field goal for a touchdown by Ravens punter/holder Sam Koch against the Raiders.
Poor special teams play by the Panthers this season resulted in a rare, in-season coaching move as the team fired special teams coach Brian Murphy. Assistant special teams coach Richard Rogers takes over for Murphy.
In other game action, the Redskins have brought Nick Sundberg back from injured reserve and released client Justin Snow, who filled in for eight games. Snappers Clark Harris (Bengals), Jon Condo (Raiders), Andrew Economos (Bucs) and Thomas Gafford (Chiefs) each recorded solo tackles in punt coverage.
Finally, behind each snapper is a unique story of how they got to the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals web site recently featured veteran snapper Mike Leach in an online story. Leach’s path to snapping is much different than most, as he was a tight end/punter who tried to make the Titans as a rookie in 2000. During his first season, Alan Lowry, the Titans special teams coach, saw him snap a ball to a punter and that led to Leach’s new career as a snapper.
Leach is now in his 13th NFL season and even played some tight end in 2010. In the article, Cardinals special teams coach Kevin Spencer recalls his time with the Oakland Raiders and late owner Al Davis. Davis used to tell Spencer that, as long as the team had a good snapper, he could sleep at night.
Below is the NFL Long Snappers Chart after Week Ten.