NFC West: John Ryan

Calm down, calm down. I realize punter-related items tend to whip the blog into an emotional frenzy, but in the interests of civility, please stifle your displays of excitement.

[+] EnlargeAndy Lee
ESPNSan Francisco punter Andy Lee had a huge game against NFC West rival Seattle.
This is not another gratuitous plea for page views.

It's our occasional look at ESPN's punter of the week, as selected by resident puntologist Mark Simon from ESPN Stats & Information.

Seattle's Jon Ryan won the honors previously. So did Arizona's Dave Zastudil. St. Louis' Johnny Hekker was separately named the NFC's top special-teams player for Week 5.

The San Francisco 49ers' Andy Lee edged Zastudil to top Simon's list for Week 7.

Here's what Simon had to say:
"Lee had five punts in last Thursday’s win over the Seahawks and could not have fared much better than he did.

"Lee put four punts inside the 15-yard line.

"On average for the game (including all drives, not just punts), the Seahawks started at their own 15. To that point, it was the worst average starting field position of any team in a game this season.

"Lee's biggest punt was a 66-yarder (net: 61 yards) with 1:48 left and the 49ers protecting a seven-point lead. That turned the field and pushed the Seahawks back their own 11-yard line.

"Since we’re giving props to punters for pinning the opponent deep, let’s also pay tribute to Dave Zastudil.

"Zastudil, who won Punter of the Week in Week 4, punted five times in situations in which the Cardinals were within 55 yards of the end zone. Zastudil pinned the Vikings inside the 15 on all five punts. Of those five, four were fair catches and one was returned for a net of minus-3 yards. He avoided having any touchbacks."

So, take that, rest of the NFL.

On a more serious note, punters and their coverage units do change expected points when they pin opponents deep. That's important for any team, and especially important in the NFC West, where teams play strong defense and tend to keep the games close.

Way to go, Andy Lee and peers.

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