Week 14 of the NFL saw Aussies in teams who are (presumably) desperate to secure a spot in the playoffs. When looking at our college players, it’s difficult to ignore the awards being thrown at Tom Hackett.
Week 14 in the NFL also saw every Aussie fan jealous at the seats Kevin Rudd had at the Philadelphia Eagles/Buffalo Bills game – although it does seem that they were a little wasted on him.
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) December 13, 2015
Do Brad Wing’s Giants Really Want to Make the Playoffs?
You could be forgiven for questioning whether any team in the NFC East actually wants to make the playoffs. It seems that as soon as a team has the opportunity to get a game clear in top spot, they cough it up.
And whilst the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins both went into this game on 5 wins and 7 losses, their chances of making the playoffs were as different as the New York and Miami December climates. The Dolphins, being in the AFC East, are all but entirely eliminated from playoff contention, whilst the Giants are still a chance of finishing in top spot of their division.
But thanks to a 84 yard Eli Manning throw to Odell Beckham Jr. early in the final quarter, the Giants were able to push their way in front and hold on for the win.
Brad Wing had a solid game for the Giants with four punts at an average of 45 yards and one inside 20. Two punts travelled over 50 yards (52 and 54 yards) and the shortest of Wing’s punts, which travelled 34 yards, was called for a fair catch on Miami’s 25 yard line.
Brad Wing Pro Bowler
— The Bomb…It's LIT! (@TheZenSettings) December 15, 2015
However, it was Wing’s punt in the 4th quarter which will cause some concern. Punting from inside end zone, the punt only travelled 40 yards and placed the Dolphins on the Gaints’ 48 yard line and well within scoring distance in a tight situation. It’s the perfect example of a punt that should have travelled another 20 yards.
Does Brad Wing have the worst punting average in the league?
— Michael Festa (@FestaClockShado) December 15, 2015
But fortunately for Wing the Gaints’ defence did something that it hasn’t been able to do for most of the season – hold onto a lead late in the game. It means that Giants are still in with a chance for a playoff spot although they do come up against the undefeated Carolina Panthers next week in what may prove to be make-or-break game for their playoff chances.
Rating – Three good punts and an average one. The biggest problem is that the average punt came at the worst possible moment. But then again, no harm no foul.
2.5 out of 5
Jordan Berry’s Steelers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
Jordan Berry’s Pittsburgh Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 33-20 win over the top placed AFC North team, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers have now won 4 out of the last 5 games, and thanks to the strong offensive drive led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back D’Angelo Williams, Berry has been barely required on the field of late.
This week was of little exception with Berry only punting twice for an average of 49 yards with one inside 20.
Berry’s first punt was a gem which travelled 45 yards and was downed on the 2 yard line. His second travelled 53 yards and went out of bounds on Cincinnati’s 27 yard line. Both punts served to flip the field and ensured that Cincinnati’s drive began from deep within their own territory.
The Jordan Berry punt set the stage for possible last second points…Good job by Defense to force the 3 and out #Steelers
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) December 13, 2015
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 13, 2015
Jordan Berry with the mega leg
— Nik- (@NikkF07) December 13, 2015
Great kick jordan berry, maybe they could replace the hayne column in sydney papers with berry highlights #PITvsCIN
— Greg Mc (@gjmcdona) December 13, 2015
AFC playoff wildcards are in hot contention with three sides all sitting second in their respective divisions on 8 wins and 5 losses.
By beating the Bengals the Steelers came one small step closer to knocking them off top spot and securing guaranteed playoff entry. However, this would require the Steelers to win their final three games and for the Bengals to lose their final three, meaning a wildcard entry is the Steelers best chance.
Rating – Berry flipped the field and contributed to a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Even without much game time, Berry is doing the job that needs to be done.
3 out of 5
Tom Hackett: College Punter of the Year – Again
Another week, another reason to write about Tom Hackett; but when someone becomes a two time Ray Guy Award winner, it’s difficult not to talk about them.
This week Hackett was presented with the award which is given to the year’s best punter in college football. It’s the second consecutive year that Hackett has won making him only the third person to win it twice and only the second person to win it in consecutive years. Ryan Allan, who now punts for the New England Patriots, won the award in 2011 and 2012 and was also the last non-Aussie to receive the honour with Melbournian Tom Hornsey winning it in 2013.
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 11, 2015
Upon receiving the award Hackett was asked about Australian Rules, in particular the fact that both running and punting is required. Hackett sarcastically replied: “The main reason I’m playing this sport is because deep down I’m fat and I don’t like running very far. Running twenty odd yards on and twenty odd yards off, that’s about all I’ve got for you.” It’s the type of tongue-in-cheek response that University of Utah fans have come to expect from Hackett and has led him become a crowd favourite.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 11, 2015
Hackett finished the year with the NCAAF’s two longest punts for the year, 76 and 74 yards, 24 inside 20s from 55 punts, and an average of 47.8 yard.
Hackett will play his final game for the year this coming Sunday morning (Aust. time) when the Utah Utes take on the BYU Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes have finished the season as the 20th ranked college side in the country.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) December 6, 2015
The question that remains for Hackett is whether he will be picked up in the upcoming 2016 NFL draft. Punters tend not to be demanded in the draft with Bradley Pinion being the only punter picked up in 2015 as a fifth round draft pick.
Rating – Well, it would be a bit harsh if I dropped him down from the rating I gave him last week.
5 out of 5