Rams and Vikings' Special Teams Sizzle, Seal Victories
by Patrick Imig
Cold Hard Football Facts' Special Teams Ace
At 3-1, the Minnesota Vikings have provided one of the biggest surprises of the early season. Even though the offense had trouble moving the ball all afternoon, the team controlled the game thanks to its special teams, which provided all 20 points in the 20-13 victory.
It started immediately when Percy Harvin returned the opening kick 105 yards for a touchdown, the longest such play in team history.
On the first punt return of the second half, Marcus Sherels returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. This earned the Detroit Lions the dubious distinction of yielding punt return and kick return touchdowns in back-to-back games, a feat that was last achieved in 1940.
In between the touchdowns, Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh successfully kicked field goals of 49 and 27 yards. Walsh has converted on all nine of his field goal attempts in 2012.
The Lions, meanwhile, are one St. Louis Rams first down away from being winless on the season. They escaped Week 1 after the Rams failed to convert a first down with two minutes to play, setting up Stafford and the Lions' game-winning drive.
SPEAKING OF THE RAMS
St. Louis moved to 2-2 with a 19-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Like Minnesota, all 19 of St. Louis' points came via special teams.
Also like the Vikings, the Rams have a rookie kicker. Greg Zuerlein connected on field goals of 58, 48, 60 (Rams record) and 24 yards. He's a perfect 12/12 on the season.
Based off the postgame words of Jeff Fisher, don't be surprised if the Rams attempt 65-yard field goals in the near future.
Zuerlein served as a decoy on the Rams' lone touchdown of the day, which came on a fake field goal touchdown pass from holder-punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola.
When your offense has trouble scoring touchdowns in the red zone, it's nice to have a little pick-me-up from the special teams.
The Church Lady is impressed.