In arguably the most remarkable feat of the NFL regular season thus far, I’ve refrained from giving a specialist the Unsung Hero of the Week award until three weeks into the season. This week, however, that changes. In what was the most complete team win we’ve seen from the Lions in a long time, all three units of the team contributed in a significant way.
While the special teams unit, as a whole, bounced back from a horrendous first two weeks, the one steadfast part of it in punter Sam Martin remained running like a well-oiled machine, but was overshadowed by flashy returns and questionably un-flagged tackles.
This is an EGREGIOUS missed call against Miles Sanders pic.twitter.com/Os6Vp3MjSz— Dave Loughran (@Loughy_D) September 22, 2019
Unsung hero of the week: Sam Martin, babyyyyy
After not being quite himself for much of the last two seasons, Martin seems to have returned to form after diligent work this offseason with kicking and punting coach Dan Orner, as well as extensive work with other NFL specialists.
It garnered quite some attention in the first two weeks of the season but was overshadowed this week by bounce-back games from Jamal Agnew and Matt Prater, as well as the lack of flags by the entire kick and punt return units.
On his three open-field punts (where he can boom it as far as he can), Martin averaged 45.3 net yards with some hearty hang time to let his gunners secure the returner. Martin did send his two Aussie-style end over end punts to pin the Eagles deep a bit too far, with both ending up in touchbacks. If he was perfect, though, he wouldn’t be the Unsung Hero of the Week.
What’s most important is Martin’s return to consistent, booming form thus far in the season. In a game where the Eagles found themselves on the fringe of field goal range many times, every yard against them counts, and Martin continued to do a stellar job of making those yards count on Sunday.