The NFL Divisional Round of the NFL is laced with intriguing scenarios. For the case of the NFL Regional Combine, it comes down to field positioning, and the best two kicking specialists from the platform will be in the spotlight for the first time together for a postseason run.
Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker and kicker Greg Zuerlein both signed on with the team in 2012. Both kicking talents ventured through the NFL Regional Combine process in 2012. Both specialists established themselves among the best in the NFL.
Aside from this season, Hekker has been an All-Pro since 2013. Zuerlein made the Pro Bowl last season, the same year they both helped write a chapter in the Rams’ postseason journey.
The Rams did not face the Dallas Cowboys this regular season, but they did meet last season. The Rams ultimately won that contest 35-30, however, the heroics of the kicking specialists will be ignored by the performance of Rams running back Todd Gurley’s 23 carries for 121 rushing yards and seven receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown.
In that the match up, Hekker had two punts which landed inside the 20, averaging 54 yards. Zuerlein was tremendous as he went seven for seven in field goals, including three fourth-quarter successful attempts.
Midway through December of that campaign, Zuerlein was placed on injured reserve due to a back injury.
The dynamic duo was down minus one entering the playoffs a year ago. Still, Hekker was up to the challenge.
Against the Atlanta Falcons in their Wildcard contest, the Rams could have used Zuerlein, but Hekker was masterful as he had five punts and they all landed inside the 20, averaging 43.6 per boot. His longest spanned for 66 yards.
Now, this is where the new chapter begins.
Due the success of the Rams this season, punter Johnny Hekker was not needed as much. He had 43 punts during the regular season, nailing 21 inside the 20, and finished seventh in the NFL in average punting yards (46.3).
Following Week 17, Zuerlein finished eighth in field goal percentage (87.1) of at least 30 attempts this season. The kicking veteran followed that ranking with hitting 35 of 36 extra points.
The Cowboys will not back down from the Rams, especially after a solid outing against them last season when they outgained the high-powered Rams 440 to 412.
This divisional round will come down to field positioning and the kicking game. Thanks to the NFL Regional Combine pioneers, the edge will go to the Rams with Hekker and Zuerlein booting the way.
Note: Cowboys cornerback C. J. Goodwin will continue to bring his postseason and Super Bowl experience on the field. He was a part of the Falcons’ Super Bowl LI squad.
Kenny Moore II/Colts.com
-Can Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II continue he outstanding play from his Wildcard performance against the Houston Texans? Better yet, well the Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiving core be ready for the RC pioneer, turning NFL star?
That’s more like it.