Arizona Cardinals special teams make a statement

BY Fansided and Jim Koch/FanSided via Raising Zona • December 26, 2016

The much-maligned unit of the Arizona Cardinals reversed their fortunes with an impressive performance this past Saturday

It was looking bleak for the Arizona Cardinals. The Seattle Seahawks had just rallied to tie the game in the final minute. All they needed was for kicker Steven Hauschka to put them ahead with the extra point.

A fierce rush off the edge came on the PAT attempt. They didn’t get the block, but the pressure appeared to make Hauschka rush the kick. The ball sailed wide, the special teams had come up huge and the Cards would go on to win the contest.

Special teams coordinator Amos Jones’ group had saved the day. It was a nice change for the squad who, it can be argued, cost the team a few games this year. But on this day they shined, making plays throughout the day during Arizona’s upset victory.

Defensive lineman Rodney Gunter, due to Corey Peters return from injury, has had a quiet year. On Saturday he contributed to Hauschka’s misery. Gunter got his big paw up high enough to block a Hauschka field goal attempt earlier in the game.

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    Another Cardinals player missing in action for most of the season has been outside linebacker Alex Okafor. He got in on the special teams act by deflecting a Seahawks punt. It wasn’t credited as a block because the ball bounced back across the line of scrimmage, but the play was made nevertheless.

    All season the Cards’ punting has been abysmal, but they may have found a keeper. Enter Matt Wile, the third punter used this season. In this game he was excellent, averaging 44 yards on five punts, one a booming 59-yarder.

    There’ve been whispers that the Cardinals could be on the lookout for a new kicker this offseason. Chandler Catanzaro has been wildly inconsistent this year, his 24-yard miss in the first Seattle game this season still embedded in the minds of fans. But he made up for it in the rematch, booting a 43-yard game-winner as time expired.

    Where was this kind of special teams play all season? Even adequate play by the unit may have resulted in an Arizona playoff appearance. Taking measures to improve that segment of the club needs to be a front office priority in the upcoming offseason.

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