Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Special Teams Player of the Week

October 22, 2018

Special Teams Player of the Week

Chandler Catanzaro, kicker, Tampa Bay.
Seriously: I just block-saved the “Chandler Catanzaro goat entry” and inserted it here and wrote a new top! Tampa coach Dirk Koetter trusted the well-traveled Catanzaro to try a 59-yard field goal on fourth-and-15 from the Cleveland 41 more than he trusted Jameis Winston to convert. I would have too. And with 1:55 left in overtime (Cleveland’s fourth OT game out of seven games this fall), Catanzaro got a perfect snap and spot and booted the 59-yarder comfortably inside the right upright with maybe three yards to spare. His missed extra point early (it scraped the right upright) enabled Cleveland to work its way back to forge a 23-23 tie. But the Bucs got in position to win with an eminently makeable 40-yard field goal with four seconds left. Again, Catanzaro pushed it right. The final outcome saved his bacon.

Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, New England. After playing a vital role in the Patriots knocking the Chiefs from the unbeaten ranks last week, Hightower made the play of the day for New England midway through the third quarter at Chicago. Hightower, playing on the punt-rush team on the defensive line, steamrolled his man—tight end Ben Braunecker (Harvard man, by the way)—and smothered the Pat O’Donnell punt. In the ensuing mayhem, Kyle Van Noy picked it up for New England and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 31-24 lead. Textbook example of a brute-strength bull-rush on the punt, and knowing exactly where the block point was on the punt. That’s the first time the Bears have had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown by an opponent in 31 years.

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