Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dave Zastudil’s work in Arizona Cardinals' victory should not be overlooked

By Kent Somers

December 17, 2012

It was easy to overlook punter Dave Zastudil’s performance in Sunday’s victory over the Lions, because there were a lot more glamorous things to discuss than punting.

The Cardinals won for the first time since Sept. 30. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns and another set up a score. They recovered a muffed punt that led to another touchdown.

But Zastudil played a key part in the 38-10 victory. He punted nine times (yep, that offense still needs work), and six of them were downed inside the Lions’ 20. That’s a Cardinals franchise record.

Let’s take a look at Zastudil’s punts and how they helped the Cardinals win.

First quarter

1. Zastudil hits a 29-yarder that Stefan Logan fair catches at the 9. The Lions don’t gain a first down, and after a punt, the Cardinals take over at their 43. That favorable field position can be traced directly to Zastudil’s punt. Ryan Lindley’s pass on first down was intercepted, but Zastudil did his job.

2. Zastudil hits a 55-yarder that Logan fair catches at his 20. The defense again holds, and the Cardinals take over at their 38. Again, the offense does nothing with the field position.

3. Zastudil punts 46 yards to the Lions 12. The Cardinals down the ball there but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Michael Adams gives the Lions 15 more yards. Not Zastudil’s fault, obviously.

Second quarter

4. Zastudil hits a 47-yarder to the Detroit 17. Logan muffs the punt because Adams shoves a blocker into him. Adams recovers at the 5. Adams doesn’t have a chance to make that play if Zastudil doesn’t hit a good punt that pinned Logan near the sideline. The Cardinals scored their first touchdown on the next play. Credit can be traced back to Zastudil.

5. Zastudil punts 51 yards to the Detroit 7. Justin Bethel stops Logan for no gain at the Lions 7. On first down, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s pass attempt to Calvin Johnson is intercepted by Patrick Peterson, who returns it 31 yards to the Lions 3. The Cardinals score a touchdown to take their first lead. Again, partial credit for the score can be traced back to Zastudil.

Third quarter

6. Zastudil’s 28-yard punt is fair caught by Logan at the 8. The Lions don’t gain a first down, and the Cardinals next possession starts at the Detroit 49. It goes nowhere, but, again, Zastudil and the defense combined to give the offense great field position.

Fourth quarter
7. Zastudil makes his only mistake in 9 attempts, launching one 49 yards to the Lions end zone. The defense holds.

8. Zastudil hits a 54-yarder that Logan fair catches at the 13. The Lions drive to the Cardinals 4 and Greg Toler then returns an interception 102 yards for a touchdown.

9. Zastudil punts 39 yards to the Detroit 24. The ball goes out of bounds, but hardly anyone cares. The Cardinals are ahead 38-10, with Zastudil playing a big role in the victory.

In all, Zastudil averaged 44.2 yards a kick and had a net average of 42, well above the Cardinals’ weekly goal of 38.

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