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Super Bowl XLIV Preview: Colts Special Teams

Colts Special Teams

Position Starter Backup
P Pat McAfee
K Matt Stover Adam Vinateri
LS Justin Snow Jacob Tamme
PR T.J. Rushing Pierre Garcon
KR Chad Simpson T.J. Rushing

Regular Season Rankings
Kick Return – 18th (22.2 ypr, 1 TD)
Punt Return – 28th (5.2 ypr, 0 TD)
Kick Return Allowed- 31st (25.3 ypr , 1 TD of 106 yds)
Punt Return Allowed- 16th (8.4 ypr, 0 TD)


Pat McAfee, the Colts rookie punter, punted just 64 times this season but was very effective when called upon. For the season, he averaged 43.3 yards per punt with a net of 37.8. Twenty-one of his sixty -four punt were downed inside the 20.

The punt return defense has improved in the post season. Of the ten punts McAfee has kicked, they Colts have only allowed an average of 4.0 yards per return and a net of 42.8.

This unit has given up a few yards during the regular season, but has settled in the post season. Meanwhile, the Saints have has some big punt returns in the post season, led by RB Reggie Bush. Expect the Colts to continue the same strategy the Vikings used against the Saints, which is to kick away from Bush or get plenty of hang time on kicks and force a fair catch. More than likely, they will opt for high kicks with plenty of hangtime, as Bush is prone to fumble. Bush must protect the ball and not give up a fumble. The Colts will capatilize.


Matt Stover is set to become the oldest player in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl at the age of 42. He was sigend by the Colts after an injury to Adam Vinateri in mid-season. Vinateri is on the active roster, but will not play.

For the season, Stover was near perfect, making all 33 PAT attempts and 9 of 11 field goals. His regular season long was a 43 yarder in a home win against Tennessee. His longest attempt of the season was a 52 yard miss in Houston.

He has been perfect this postseason, making all five field goals and extra points with a long of 44 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.

The wily veteran is not afraid to make the big kick if necessary. His range is about 50 yards. If the Colts are short of his range on fourth down, they are not afraid to go for it, as they have done all season.

Punt Returner

T.J. Rushing, a reserve safety, serves as the teams top punt returner. For the season, he averaged 5.8 yards on 21 returns. This post-season, he has had just 5 punt return attemps for 33 yards. He has no punt returns for touchdowns this season and just one for his career.

While a quick, but not fast returner, he does not possess break away speed and not likely to return a punt for a touchdown. He has good acceleration, but struggles with body control, often having to stop completely before making a cut to regain control of his body.

The Saints have to keep up the good work they have been doing in the playoffs covering punts. Thomas Morestead has had a great postseason, averaging 51.3 yards on seven punts against the Vikings last weekend, while giving the ball enough hang time to allow his coverage unit to be able to make a quick play of fair catch, something the Saints have greatly improved on as the season has gone along. The Saints still need to be careful, as they have given up punt returns for touchdowns in the past, including a 77-yard return in the Tampa loss. The Saints were last in the league in the regular season in punt return yards allowed.

Kick Returner

Chad Simpson, a reserve RB, serves as the teams punt kickoff return ace. For the regular season, Simpson returned 38 kickoffs for an average of 23.5 yards per return. Last week in the AFC Championship game, Simpson improved upon those numbers, returning three kicks for a 27.7 yards average, including a long of 33 yards.

While Simpson has no return touchdowns for his career, he is elusive and agile in small areas. However, the small back does not possess great break away speed.

The Saints meanwhile were ranked 29th in the regular season, allowing 24.5 return yards per attempt. However, the Saints hav found a new weapon in Thomas Morestead, who has started to boom kickoffs deep in the end zone for no returns. Of his six kickoffs last week, Vikings ace Percy Harvin only handled two returns for just 16.5 yards per return. Expect more of the same from the Saints unit in a game where field position may be a big factor in deciding the out come of this game.

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2 Responses to “Super Bowl XLIV Preview: Colts Special Teams”

  1. Super bowl says:

    Super Bowl, Super Bowl.
    Really taken my soul.
    Here again u’ve come!
    pleasure, brought more than some.

    I’m looking forward to attend the games; I even got ma tix from and waiting for February!

    Come on February!
    what surprise u carry!
    who’ll win who’ll loose!
    the latter is a moose.

  2. […] admin wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:Colts Special Teams Position Starter Backup P Pat McAfee K Matt Stover Adam Vinateri LS Justin Snow Jacob Tamme PR TJ Rushing Pierre Garcon KR Chad Simpson TJ Rushing Regular Season Rankings Kick Return – 18th (22. […]

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