Broncos punter Britton Colquitt nearly turned in a historical outing on Sunday, finishing with an impressive stat line: six punts for a gross average of 55.8 yards and a net of 51.0 yards. Both his gross and net averages led the league’s punters in Week 2.
The 51-yard net average is the fourth highest single-game net average in NFL history by a player with at least six punts in a game, and the 55.8-yard single-game gross average ties for tenth all-time (min. 6 punts).
Had it not been for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against the Broncos that negated an 82-yard punt in the fourth quarter, Colquitt’s gross average would have been 60.0 and his net would have improved to 58.5 yards.
The 60.0-yard gross punting average would represent the highest for a single game in NFL history and the 58.5-yard net average would rank second in league annals.
Additionally, the 82-yard punt would have matched the seventh longest in NFL history.
Colquitt, who said that the 82-yard punt was the longest he’s ever unleashed in a game, knew he got all of the ball as soon as it left his foot.
“Once I felt it, you know you got a hold of it and it’s going to be whatever your max is,” Colquitt said. “It’s just like everything happened the right way.”
As it was, Colquitt’s efforts vs. Cincinnati were enough for Sports Illustrated’s Peter King to name him the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week in his weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” Column.
“It wasn’t only the six punts for a 55.8-yard average, with an amazing 51.0-yard net. It was the fact that he had no bad punts,” King wrote. “How many times has a punter punted six times in a game, with the worst one being a 49-yarder? His punts traveled 57, 58, 59, 49, 57 and 55 yards in a 24-22 Denver win.”
“It always starts with the first one,” Colquitt said. “You want to start out the day with a good one. It just gives you confidence and as long as you keep hitting them good, you have that confidence for each one.”
Colquitt built momentum last year, which carried through the preseason and into the 2011 season. This preseason, Colquitt led the league with a 44.2-yard net punting average this preseason and ranked third with a gross average of 50.1 yards.
“I was a little worried and I was hoping that I didn’t peak too soon,” Colquitt said, laughing. “The preseason is really important, especially with kicking, because you’re not only playing a quarter or something like that. I think it’s really good practice and it gets you ready for the games so I just wanted to really work at it and be as consistent as I could and hopefully make it pour over into regular season practice and games.”
Since Week 12 of last season, Colquitt ranks third in the NFL with a gross average of 47.8 yards per punt. He finished last year tied for first in the league with six games with a 50+yard gross punting average.
Colquitt said he did not change much mechanically from a year ago, but used the offseason to focus on fundamentals.
“The steps are the biggest thing,” he said. “Keeping short steps enables the drop to usually be good. I got away from holding it a little higher – a lot of times you think you get a better punt or better hang time the higher you hold it, but the lower you hold it – you’re putting it down to your foot pretty much.”