It’s a well-known fact that each NFL team has at least one forgotten man in which people overlook. For the Green Bay Packers, that forgotten man is punter Tim Masthay.
Two talented special teams’ players entered Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. Masthay was fresh off a shutdown performance against the Chicago Bears in the week prior, while Eagles kicker David Akers felt the swirling winds of Lincoln Financial Field when missing two crucial field goals.
We all know who turned out the better performance.
The special teams unit has been a constant problem for the Packers this season. Numerous examples spring to mind, but none more so than Green Bay’s trip to Atlanta in Week 12, that resulted in a cool as “ice” Matt Ryan drive to deliver Mike McCarthy yet another close loss.
Then there are the many other instances that have cost the Packers a shot at an undefeated season. Against the Chicago Bears in Week 3 Green Bay allowed two consecutive field goals in the forth quarter, to see their first regular season loss dealt.
Next, Washington slipped the Packers not only an Aaron Rodgers concussion, but also their first overtime loss thanks to Graham Gano’s precise kicking ways to send FedEx Field into frenzy.
In addition against the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay once again felt the pinch of an overtime defeat off of the back of a typically precise Dan Carpenter field goal, which marked the start of some unique questioning surrounding the coaching staff.
And finally, who could forget the disappointing loss in New England, that saw offensive tackle Dan Connolly nearly take it to the house on a kick return?
I wouldn’t blame Packer fans if they are a little embarrassed right now.
Luckily, though, Green Bay has found a saviour, and funnily enough it has come from the punting position.
Before the season began, finding a punter was both a difficult and demanding task. Many teams were in search for a young stud that beared the qualities of a coffin corner punter, and in the end more than one franchise in the league went without.
Fortunately the Green Bay Packers struck gold. Whether or not you choose to credit general manager Ted Thompson for this brilliant move is your own call, yet the acquisition of Masthay from the Indianapolis Colts in January deserves some attention.
On the season, Masthay has been phenomenally underrated in games that have seen him perform well. During Week 17 Masthay slotted four of his eight punts inside the Chicago Bears 20, and has continued this pace into the postseason.
In Philadelphia, Masthay was also responsible for Green Bay’s upset victory over the Eagles. When Rodgers failed to jump start the Packers final drive off of some James Starks run attack, Masthay then proceeded to punt the ball deep into Eagle territory, forcing Michael Vick to drive 66 yards down field.
Of course, Masthay has also had his bad games that go hand in hand. Against Miami in Week 6 he was responsible for granting the Dolphins game winning field position, a factor that comes with embracing a first year punter.
Packer fans, thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to deal with a Matt Dodge effect that the New York Giants are currently undergoing. The punt game may be overlooked and downright disrespected at times, but there is a reason Green Bay continues to shape the special teams game.
Masthay won’t demand your respect, because punters simply aren’t known for that. Still, you don’t contain both Devin Hester and DeSean Jackson in consecutive weeks and go without a mention.
The Packers special teams unit is back in business. Watch out Atlanta Falcons, this isn’t the same team you faced in Week 12.
Ryan Cook is an Australian author for Acme Packing Company, and a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also a guest writer on PackerChatters, and a contributing writer to Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Sports Haze.