Super Bowl Comparison – Special Teams
I wrap the Super Bowl comparison up with a look at the Special Teams. Since their are three different battles (Kicking, Returning, Coverage) I’ll do a tale-of-the-tape for each matchup.
First up, let’s take a look at the Kickers. Neil Rackers and Jeff Reed were nearly identical in the regular season. Rackers had 119 points to Reed’s 117. Rackers made 25 of 28 FGs (89.3%) to Reed’s 27 of 31 (87.1%). Racker’s long was 54. Reed’s 53. This one is too close to call.
Next up we’ll take a look at the Punters. Pittsburgh had an average of 39.8 yards per punt between Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster. They dropped 23 inside the 20. They had a net of 36.7 yards per punt. Mitch Berger has handled the punting in the playoffs. Arizona had an average of 41.8 yards per punt between Dirk Johnson and Ben Graham. They dropped 20 inside the 20, and had a net of 35.5 yards per punt. Ben Graham has handled the punting in the playoffs. Considering Arizona is punting it farther and still getting less yards per punt, as well as having fewer Inside the 20 punts, I’ll give Pittsburgh a slight edge.
On to the return game. Arizona averaged 21.7 yards per Kick Return during the regular season with a TD. J.J. Arrington wast Arizona’s top KR with 923 yards on 36 returns (25.6) and a 93 yard TD. Steve Breaston added 667 yards on 33 returns (20.2). Pittsburgh averaged 20.3 yards per Kick Return. They didn’t really have a standout KR.
Arizona had 33 punt returns for 237 yards (7.2 yards per punt return). Breaston was their Punt Returner. Pittsburgh had 41 punt returns for 247 yards (6.0). Mewelde Moore had six returns, but Santonio Holmes was their primary Punt Returner. He took one to the house against San Diego in the Divisional Round. I’ll give Pittsburgh a slight edge over Breaston.
Finally, let’s take a look at kick coverage. Pittsburgh was tops in the league at Kick Return coverage allowing just 19.1 yards per Kickoff. Arizona is 30th at 25.0. They have also allowed a KR TD. The same story applies to Punt Returns. Pittsburgh is fourth with just 6.2 yards per punt return allowed. Arizona is 30th and more than double that mark at 13.1 yards per punt return. They allowed a PR TD as well.
Overall Special Teams