Sprint Game Ball Of The Week: Nick Harris

This post is sponsored by Sprint.

I know what you're thinking. A punter? Really? How can a punter be deserving of a Sprint Game Ball?

Trust me, I realize it seems odd to give a punter a Sprint Game Ball, especially for a performance that included one of his punts being taken back for a touchdown, but allow me to explain.

After coming off of losses, especially ones that aren't close, it's often tough to single out one player for a good performance. Usually there aren't any that jump out at you after a double-digit loss, which was the case for the Cowboys game. Nobody's stats on offense or defense really jumped out at me, leaving me struggling to find a player to deserving of a Sprint Game Ball. So I moved on to special teams players and it hit me -- Nick Harris deserves recognition for his performance against Dallas. Why? Just take a look at his six punts from Sunday's game:

  1. (From 50) 48 yards, downed at the DAL 2
  2. (From DAL 47) 47 yards, touchback
  3. (From DAL 41) 37 yards, downed at the DAL 4
  4. (From DET 49) 47 yards, downed at the DAL 4 (The Lions got a safety on the very next play.)
  5. (From DET 44) 53 yards, picked up and returned from the DAL 3 for a 97-yard touchdown
  6. (From DAL 46) 46 yards, touchback

My initial observation from looking at this is that the Lions were able to move the ball on Sunday, but their problem was they couldn't finish off drives. This problem resulted in six punts, and none of them were from deep in the Lions' own territory. Those kinds of punts allow Harris to flip the field position, but on Sunday it was more about pinning Dallas deep, which is exactly what happened three times.

Of Harris' six punts, three were downed inside the five-yard line (John Wendling downed two of them). The one that was returned for a touchdown should have been the fourth downed inside the five, as Wendling again batted it down to keep it out of the end zone. Unfortunately Bryan McCann came out of nowhere and picked the ball up for a flukey 97-yard touchdown after it looked like the Cowboys would once again have awful field position.

Perhaps it says a lot about a game when a punter receives the Sprint Game Ball, but Nick Harris is definitely deserving based on how he played against the Cowboys. Three times he put Dallas on its own goal line, and one time that resulted in a safety. If not for McCann coming out of nowhere and picking up the ball on that touchdown return, Harris would have put four of his six punts inside the five, which is just remarkable. It didn't change the outcome of this game, but often times winning the field position battle like this can be the difference in a game, and Harris most definitely did his part in helping the Lions try to end their road losing streak.

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