Week 12 Report Card for All 32 Special Teams Units

Jeffrey Schmidt@JeffSchmidt9Correspondent IIINovember 28, 2011

Week 12 Report Card for All 32 Special Teams Units

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    Special teams units are often overlooked even though they are indeed one-third of each NFL game. Week 12 displayed some great action overall and some games featured some big plays from special teams players and their units.  

    Special teams plays include kickoffs, kick returns, PAT's, punts, punt returns and field goals. 

    How did your team fare in Week 12 as far as special teams is concerned? Continue reading for a full report card for each NFL franchise. 

Arizona Cardinals

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    Grade: A-

    Patrick Peterson tied the NFL record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season, and kicker Jay Feely connected all three of his field goal attempts. 

    Peterson's return went for 80 yards, and Feely's fourth-quarter 22-yard field goal proved to be the game-winner. 

    The Cardinals had one major fault on special teams when Nick Miller returned a punt 88 yards to the house, but the team's other successes certainly keeps the grade in the A- range.    

Atlanta Falcons

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    Grade: B

    Atlanta struggled with all but one of its punt/kick returns, but its kicking units were a bright spot as they did an exceptional job. 

    Matt Bryant hit on his lone field goal attempt, and punter Matt Bosher averaged over 41 yards per punt.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Grade: A+

    The Ravens picked up a tough win against one of the league's best teams in San Francisco, and it is because of defense and special teams that Baltimore came out on top. 

    Sam Koch, who is one of the leagues best punters, booted two punts inside the 20 yard line. Kicker Billy Cundiff was the main threat offensively as he came up big with three field goals. 

    The Ravens struggled in the return game, but each of their kicking units played perfectly.

Buffalo Bills

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    Grade: A

    Brian Moorman was spectacular against the New York Jets as he placed three of his seven punts inside the New York 20. One of those punts landed inside the 1-yard line, and that Jets' drive ultimately resulted in a turnover that led to points for the Bills.  

    The Bills' only struggle came on punt returns as they had just one attempt for nine yards. 

    Kicker Dave Rayner nailed a 53-yard field goal, which gave Buffalo the lead late in the fourth quarter.   

Carolina Panthers

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    Grade: A-

    The Colts looked like they had a chance to acquire their first win of the season against Carolina, but wide receiver Kealoha Pilares set the Panthers up with great field position on two different occasions. 

    Punter Jason Baker punted two balls inside the 20 and averaged 46 yards per punt for the game. 

    Punt returns were the only area Carolina struggled with, as it only averaged five yards per return on four returns. 

Chicago Bears

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    Grade: B+

    Johnny Knox provided the spark in the return game for the Bears this week as Devin Hester was limited to just six yards on punt returns and 38 yards on kickoff returns against the Raiders on Sunday.

    Robbie Gould made a clutch 53-yard field goal and was perfect on the day while punter Adam Podlesh kicked five punts for a 45-yard average. 

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Grade: B+

    The Bengals ended their two-game losing streak at home in a come-from-behind victory against the Cleveland Browns. 

    Kicker Mike Nugent went 3-of-3 on field-goal attempts, and the team's kickoff unit held Joshua Cribbs to just 21 yards per kick return. 

    Punter Kevin Huber had a nice game as well as he averaged over 43 yards per attempt. 

Cleveland Browns

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    Grade: B+

    Phil Dawson made two out of three field goals with one of the two being a tough 54-yard attempt. 

    Joshua Cribbs had a kickoff return long of 29 yards and he was held to just 18 yards on three punt returns. 

    Punter Brad Maynard had a great game himself as he averaged over 44 yards per attempt as well as pinning Cincinnati inside the 20 twice. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Grade: B+

    The Dallas Cowboys squeaked out a victory on Thanksgiving Day against the Miami Dolphins and there is no question their special teams unit was a main factor in the outcome. 

    Kicker Dan Bailey came up clutch with two field goals, including the game-winning 28-yard attempt. The Cowboys were contained on kickoffs, but Felix Jones had a nice day returning punts as he averaged 18 yards per return. 

Denver Broncos

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    Grade: A-

    Matt Prater went 3-of-3 on the day, which included the game-winning 37-yard field goal. 

    The Broncos received an impressive game from their return men as three players averaged 20 or more yards per return, and punter Britton Colquitt punted the ball nine times and pinned three inside the 20. 

Detroit Lions

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    Grade: C+

    Detroit fell victim to some great punts by punter Tim Masthay, as it was never able to get its electric playmakers going. 

    The Lions were pinned inside the 20 four times, and veteran kicker Jason Hanson missed his only field-goal attempt from 47 yards out. This was not a great showing from a usually solid unit, so expect the Lions to bounce back against the Saints on NBC's Sunday Night Football.  

Green Bay Packers

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    Grade: A-

    This game was a battle between two high-powered offenses, but punter Tim Masthay may have been the MVP for the Packers during Week 12. Masthay pinned Detroit inside the 20 on four of his five punts, which gave Detroit some terrible field position for most of the game. 

    The Packers did not do much in the return game, but they did not allow much of one either. 

    Kicker Mason Crosby also made both of his field goal attempts.  

Houston Texans

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    Grade: A

    Both punters were extremely active in this game. Texans punter Brett Hartmann booted 10 punts in all for an average of 41 yards per punt and pinned three inside the 20. 

    Jacoby Jones had huge 42-yard punt return, as he returned seven punts on the day for an average of more than 16 yards per return.

    Placekicker Neil Rackers was solid once again as he hit a 53-yard attempt and was perfect on the day.   

Indianapolis Colts

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    Grade: B+

    The Panthers did not allow one kickoff return from the Colts as all of their kicks resulted in touchbacks. 

    Adam Vinatieri had another solid game for the Colts as he connected on both of his attempts and punter Pat McAfee averaged 41 yards per attempt. 

    The Colts struggled on kick off coverage, however, allowing 100 yards on just two returns. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Grade: C

    The Jaguars punted the ball nine times on Sunday, but they only received 32 yards per attempt from punter Nick Harris. 

    Harris did punt two balls inside the 20, but the Texans averaged more than 16 yards per punt return, which means he needs to do a better job of angling his kicks. 

    Jacksonville was terrible in the return game itself, averaging just one yard per punt return and 27 yards per kick return. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Grade: B

    Ryan Succop provided the only points for the Chiefs against Pittsburgh Sunday night. The kicker hit three field goals from 40-plus yards with the long being from 49. 

    The kickoff unit held the Steelers to just 76 total yards on four attempts while the Chiefs return game struggled in the own right with just one return for 20 yards. 

    Punter Dustin Colquitt averaged just 37 yards per punt in the game. 

Miami Dolphins

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    Grade: A-

    The Miami Dolphins have resurrected themselves from their awful start in recent weeks and they almost won their fourth straight football game on Thanksgiving Day. 

    Shayne Graham made four out of his five field goal attempts with his only miss coming from 47 yards out.

    Punter Brandon Fields stuck Dallas inside the 20 on two different punts to go along with a long of 58 yards.  

Minnesota Vikings

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    Grade: B+

    Percy Harvin was the star in Sunday's game for Minnesota as he returned a kick 104 yards and had eight catches for 95 yards.

    Minnesota struggled on offense and failed to add any points through field goals. The Vikings coverage teams were excellent all day, and punter Chris Kluwe was extremely active with seven punts on the day. 

New England Patriots

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    Grade: B-

    Punter Zoltan Mesko preformed well for New England in its 38-20 victory over Philadelphia. The punter averaged 48 yards per punt and booted two of his three kicks inside the 20.

    Stephen Gostkowski made a 47-yard field goal, but then missed on a 39-yard chip shot, which hurts New England's grade.  

    New England also struggled in the return game. The team had just 75 yards on four kick returns and just 12 yards on two punt returns.  

New Orleans Saints

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    Grade: B+ 

    The Saints ran a fake field goal on their opening drive, but Jimmy Graham fell a yard shy of the first down.

    John Kasey made all seven attempted PAT's and Thomas Morstead pinned the Giants inside the 20 on both his punts.

    Darren Sproles had two kick returns on the day and averaged 31 yards per return.  

New York Giants

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    Grade: B-

    The Giants played a sloppy game on MNF, and luckily recovered an Aaron Ross muffed punt early in the game.

    The return game averaged 28 yards per return while the coverage team did a good job at stoping the Saints return game.

    Steve Weatherford had only two punts on the day and averaged just 28 yards per kick with one landing inside the 20.   

New York Jets

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    Grade: C+

    The Jets did not attempt any field goals against Buffalo, but Nick Folk did go 4-of-4 on his PAT attempts.

    Joe McKnight had a 39-yard kickoff return and averaged 26 yards per return for the game, while Antonio Cromartie muffed a punt that led to Buffalo points.  

    Punter T.J. Conley was overshadowed by Brian Moorman, but he still had a great game as he pinned Buffalo inside the 20 on two of his five attempts.   

Oakland Raiders

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    Grade: A+

    The Raiders played a near-perfect game on special teams in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. Sebastian Janikowski hit six field goals from 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards and had 19 total points in the game. 

    Punter Shane Lechler booted an amazing 80 punt and averaged 49 yards per on five punts while pinning three of them inside the 20. 

    The Raiders were not great in the return game, but they did manage to shut down Devin Hester.  

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Grade: B-

    The Eagles did not return any New England punts, and they were held to just 38 yards from kickoff returns. 

    Rookie kicker Alex Henry made both of his field goal attempts while rookie punter Chas Henry had a long of 51 yards for the day. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Grade: B+

    Kicker Shaun Suisham came up big in last night's tough victory against Kansas City as he connected on two very important field goals. 

    Punter Jeremy Kapinos booted two punts inside the 20 and the Chiefs limited Pittsburgh to tough field position all night. 

    The Steelers failed to return any punts on the night, but Emmanuel Sanders contributed 76 yards on four kickoff returns. 

San Diego Chargers

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    Grade: B-

    Chargers kicker Nick Novak booted a 53-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game that gave him a career long, but the kicker went on to miss attempts from 48 and 53 yards. 

    The 53-yard miss came in overtime, which allowed Tim Tebow to lead the Broncos down the field for the game-winning score. 

    Punter Mike Scifres had a long of 61 for the day, but only averaged 38 yards per punt.  

San Francisco 49ers

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    Grade: A

    The 49ers special teams unit kept this game close, as David Akers connected on two field goals, which gave San Francisco its only points of the game. 

    Akers had a long of 52 yards in the game, and Andy Lee punted the ball perfectly as he averaged 48 yards per attempt. 

    Tedd Ginn, Jr. was not much of a factor, but he still averaged 31 yards per return. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Grade: B-

    Seahawks punter Jon Ryan was the star of the game as he booted four of his six punts inside the 20 while averaging 43 yards per punt. 

    The Seahawks did nothing returning punts, but Leon Washington had two great kick returns for the Hawks with the longer one going for 51 yards.

    Seattle also went 1-of-2 on field-goal attempts for the game.  

St. Louis Rams

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    Grade: B

    Nick Miller electrified the St. Louis crowd early when he returned an Arizona punt 88 yards to the house in the first quarter. Kicker Josh Brown went 2-of-3 on field-goal attempts and his 50-yard miss proved to be crucial. 

    The Rams allowed a touchdown on a punt return from rookie Patrick Peterson, but punter Donnie Jones had a decent day overall as he averaged 33.4 yards per attempt. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Grade: B

    It is hard to believe any unit would have stopped the Titans trickery on special teams, so the Buccaneers don't get hit to hard from the kickoff returned for a touchdown.  

    The Bucs did not do anything in their own return game as the Titans pinned them inside their own 20 three times. Tampa was above average in the punting game and made its lone field-goal attempt from 43 yards away. 

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Grade: A+

    The Titans scored on a trick play on special teams in the first quarter when return man Marc Mariani handed the ball off to Tommie Campbell on a reverse.

    Campbell pretended to block for Mariani and then took the reverse for an 84-yard touchdown.  Kicker Rob Bironas was clutch in the field goal department as he made three out of his four field-goal attempts with a long of 52 yards. 

    Punter Brett Kern also pinned Tampa Bay inside the 20 on all three of his punts. 

Washington Redskins

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    Grade: C-

    Washington allowed Seattle's Red Bryant to burst through the line and block both a field goal and extra point.

    The 'Skins did not nothing in the return game while punter Sav Rocca had a decent game. The punter kicked one punt inside the 20 and had a 39-yard average for the game.