the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, October 1, 2012

NFL Week Four: Special Rams - Johnny Hekker & Greg Zuerlein

Both of the Rams' rookie specialists came up big in St. Louis' 19-13 win over Seattle. The team's lone touchdown in the game came on a fake field goal. Punter Johnny Hekker, who also serves as the holder and who played quarterback in high school, tossed a two yard score. The recipient of the pass, wide receiver Danny Amendola, discussed the play:
"[Hekker]'s an athlete and everybody knows it. That's why we have him running that play....
It actually took a while, so I am surprised that they didn't see me. It's a play where I'm acting like I'm coming off the field, but I never step out of bounds. I just wait until everybody gets set and lined up, and then I just get on the line."

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Actually, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did see him: 
"I was calling timeout but they didn't see me. I was out on the field, I don't know how far, but I was out there running at them. We saw it from upstairs. I didn't do a good enough job of getting in their view, because I was calling time out before the ball was snapped." 
Johnny Hekker himself commented afterward:
"I punted four years at Oregon State and didn't get any touchdown passes, so I have been waiting a long time for that. To get that opportunity is a really special moment. To have a touchdown pass is awesome....
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They didn't detect [Amedola] at all and I was able to stand up and throw him the ball for a touchdown."

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He also noted:
"We practiced it so many times. You just stand up and hope they’re not going to rush me and hit me during the throw.”
The remainder of the Rams points came off the foot of kicker Greg Zuerlein. In the first quarter he hit a team record 58 yard field goal. In the second quarter he added a 48 yarder. Then in the third quarter, he broke his own still fresh record by nailing one from 60 yards. In the fourth quarter he got to rest a bit by kicking a 24 yarder. He modestly commented:
"It was a good game. Anytime you can make all your field goals and PATs, it’s a good day. I need to work on the kickoffs still but not too bad."
Johhny Hekker was a bit more vocal regarding his team mate:
"He’s just so mentally stable. You can’t shake the guy at all. He’s really even keel. He made that 60-yarder, ran to the sideline after he had his kickoff and it wasn’t the best kickoff he liked so he was actually pretty upset about that coming to the sideline. After the 58-yarder he flushed that too and was like ‘OK, I can’t think about that anymore.’ I would be on cloud 9 but he’s a really mentally stable kid and he does a great job for us."
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher discussed the decision to attempt the 60 yarder:
"I was on the headsets and I said, ‘Field goal,’ and somebody said ‘Field goal?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s only 60. It’s well within his range. From the first day he came on the field, he expects to make it. He has great confidence in his leg. The other thing that’s important to realize is we have a really fine snapper and holder and it takes three to put these things down and to put them together."
Zuerlein appreciated the opportunity:
"I think, really, it says more about the coaching staff than it does about me. I feel a lot of kickers in the NFL can kick from those distances and make them. It just depends on the faith that the coaches have. Coach [John] Fassel and Coach Fisher are giving me the chances and I think that is the biggest thing."

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