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Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints special teams shine in playoffs METAIRIE — Throughout the New Orleans Saints regular season, their special teams lagged behind their top-ranked offense and their big-play defense. But they’ve had two of their best games of the season in the ...

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Old 01-30-2010, 10:25 AM   #1
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Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

Saints special teams shine in playoffs
METAIRIE — Throughout the New Orleans Saints regular season, their special teams lagged behind their top-ranked offense and their big-play defense. But they’ve had two of their best games of the season in the postseason and have held up their end as New Orleans qualified for Super Bowl XLIV.

In the 45-14 victory against Arizona in the divisional round, the punt return team, which ranked second-to-last in the NFL during the regular season, sprung Reggie Bush for an 87-yard touchdown.

In the 31-28 overtime victory against Minnesota in the NFC Championship game, Courtney Roby returned the second-half kickoff 61 yards to trigger a touchdown drive. On the kickoff to start the overtime, Pierre Thomas, subbing for Roby, who had hurt his knee, returned 40 yards, giving the Saints advantageous field position, which they used to drive to the winning field goal.

Speaking of the winning field goal, Garrett Hartley hit his 40-yarder right down the middle to send New Orleans to the Super Bowl.
Along the way, the Saints bottled up both the Cardinals’ and the Vikings’ return games, including Percy Harvin, Minnesota’s explosive rookie.
“(The special teams) have been very instrumental in our two wins,” coach Sean Payton said, “and probably not enough was written about last week’s win in regards to the kicking game and the significance of Pierre Thomas’ kick return in overtime and Courtney Roby’s return in regulation, our ability to cover.”

Thomas Morstead averaged 43.6 yards per punt and had 18 downed inside the 20 in the regular season. Against Arizona, he averaged 42.8 on four punts, one of which was downed inside the 20. Against the Vikings, he punted seven times for an average of 51.3, four of them being downed inside the 20.

“The punter, I’ve said this, is having a Pro Bowl-type season when you look at his hang time and his ability on kickoffs,” Payton said. “You take a returner like Minnesota had last week, and every time he catches a kickoff, he’s a threat. For us to start on the 20, that’s pretty big. And the field position in these games is no different than the turnovers and the mistakes are all critical as it pertains to winning and losing.”

Morstead said when he was growing up he tried to emulate former Raiders punter Ray Guy, who was best known for his outstanding hang time. Morstead said he adopted Guy’s practice of punting over power lines near his house to hone his hang time.

“He never worried about distance,” Morstead said. “He was a hang-time kind of guy and he changed the game. I pride myself on hang time. It’s kind of my deal.”

Morstead also kicked off in 15 of the 16 regular-season games and put 58 of 99 into the end zone, 27 of which were touchbacks (fourth most in the NFL). Against the Cardinals he put seven of eight kickoffs into the end zone, three of which were touchbacks. Against the Vikings he put three of five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

“My job is pretty simple — kick it for as many net yards as possible,” Morstead said. “Different situations call for different things. It depends on the game plan. It depends on different things. My job is to net as many yards as possible on every play and not put it in the end zone on punts. On kickoffs I’d take touchbacks every time if I could do it.”

Morstead was twice named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The first award came after he averaged 43.3 yards on three punts and hit all seven kickoffs into the end zone, including four touchbacks against New England.

The second award came after the regular-season finale at Carolina in which he averaged 46.3 yards on a season-high nine punts, seven of which were downed inside the 20, four of which were downed inside the 10.

That was the only game in which Morstead did not kick off as Payton had Hartley do it so he could experience game conditions in case he were needed later.

“It’s just one less thing I have to worry about,” Hartley said of Morstead handling kickoffs, “but at the same time if they need me to fill in for whatever reason I’ve still been practicing and I’m ready to go.”


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Old 01-30-2010, 11:09 AM   #2
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

yer special teams have done a great job the past few weeks, one player i'd like to draw attention to in particular is our draft pick Thomas Morstead, especially vs the vikings, this kid was fantastic never gave percy harvin a chance to return a kick, all morsteads kickoffs went straight through the endzone. nice job morstead one game to go
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:12 AM   #3
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

I agree. He pinned their kick returners down.

Expect more of that. Prior to the playoffs Coach P said he was
going to re-emphasize special teams play. He even spiked the
punch and added some hands players who'd not been S.Teams
players previously.

Yet another Who Dat X Factor.

Heck, it is XYZ factors, at this point. They are going to throw the sink an Manning. Poor dude. He is from N'awlins, after all.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:19 AM   #4
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

Morstead averaged 43.6 yards per punt, 18 downed inside the 20 in the regular season. Against Arizona, he averaged 42.8 on four punts, one of which was downed inside the 20. Against the Vikings, he punted seven times for an average of 51.3, four of them being downed inside the 20.

That really is huge. Expect more of that in the Dolts shellacking.

X Factor, Saints.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:31 AM   #5
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

just goes to show how good at recognizing talent sean payton and mickey loomis really are, because i bet many people were confused why they would pick a punter with a draft pick (me being one of them) that they traded down a couple of spots for. Really paying off now tho
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:34 AM   #6
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

He's definitely the greatest thing to come out of SMU in a long time. My folks know his family (my mom worked for SMU at the time) and they have to be proud right about now.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:35 AM   #7
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

Originally Posted by dizzle88 View Post
just goes to show how good at recognizing talent sean payton and mickey loomis really are, because i bet many people were confused why they would pick a punter with a draft pick (me being one of them) that they traded down a couple of spots for. Really paying off now tho
That couldn't be any closer to truth. Excellent point.

I guess we are not accustomed to actually having a coach till Sean showed up.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:40 AM   #8
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

nice to see morstead gettin so much respect.....its also nice to hear about how much our special teams, as an entire unit, has improved this season

last season we were absolutely terrible containing people in the return game.....this season we are much better and the credit needs to go to morstead and hartley
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Old 01-30-2010, 02:24 PM   #9
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!

Morestead, looks like he could be one of the greats
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Old 01-30-2010, 02:27 PM   #10
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Re: Special Teams: Who Dat Special!



That sounds like a plan.

Last edited by Choupique; 01-30-2010 at 02:29 PM..
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