Special teams play is vital in the NFL when it comes to winning and losing games. Placekickers who are successful at kicking field goals help their teams maintain momentum and punters who can place the ball high and deep and limit the opponent's ability to return the ball give their team's defense an advantage.
Average Field-goal Length
The average field goal attempted by the top five kickers in the AFC and NFC of the NFL was 36.5 yards in 2009, according to College and Pro Football Newsweekly. The average field goal made was 34.4 yards. Field-goal kickers made an average of 81.2 percent of their field-goal attempts.
Hall of Famer Lou "The Toe" Groza was the first placekicker admitted into the Hall of Fame. He played for the Cleveland Browns from 1950 through 1967. The first 11 years of his career, he was also an outstanding offensive tackle in addition to his kicking duties. Groza made 234 of 405 field-goal attempts during his career, a success ratio of 58 percent. In 2009, Jason Hanson of the Detroit Lions made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts, a success ratio of 96 percent.
The top five punters in the AFC and NFC averaged 45.6 yards per punt in the 2009 season. This is the distance measured from the line of scrimmage to where the punt lands or is caught by a punt returner. This does not include the 11 to 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage that most punters release the ball from.
Special teams are often the most underrated aspect of professional football. According to former Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron, punting and field-goal kicking are often responsible for keeping or changing momentum in a game. "Some coaches may not pay as much attention to special teams, but when you are successful on a long field goal or have excellent coverage on a punt, you keep momentum," Jauron said. "When you miss a field goal attempt or have a poor punt, your opponent gains momentum. That can be very difficult to overcome."