The Detroit Lions were at a field position disadvantage against the Arizona Cardinals all game long but it could have been even worse.
The Lions were a terrible punting team a year ago and drafted Sam Martin in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft to fix that problem. If Martin can keep doing what he did against the Cardinals, then we can consider that problem fixed.
Martin didn’t put any punts inside the 20 but that was because he was always punting from deep in his own territory. Had it not been for his strong performance, the Cardinals would have had even shorter fields to work with. Martin finished with an average of 52.2 yards on five punts and did so with good consistency. Here is how his five punts went:
Punt 1: 56 yards
Punt 2: 47 yards
Punt 3: 52 yards
Punt 4: 48 yards
Punt 5: 58 yards
The fact that I chose the punter for this week’s game ball says just about all you need to know about the game. It wasn’t that there weren’t any other players to recognize – Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh all played well – but the Lions didn’t get the difference-making performance they needed to pull out a victory.
Punters are often marginalized but a punter who can flip field position is a valuable player. Take a closer look and you’ll see we got a glimpse of that with Martin against the Cardinals. This was a chance to recognize what I hope, and expect, to become the norm.
2013 SideLion Report Game Balls
Week 1: Reggie Bush
Week 2: Sam Martin