A john is one of the less glamorous and least appreciated professions in the NFL. While players on both sides of the ball routinely make headlines and even kickers are occasionally brought into the limelight, punters generally work in relative anonymity.
Occasionally, however, even they can steal the show, as Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams found out Monday night when the Rams beat the Chicago Bears 24-10.
The All-Pro selection was simply flawless: 221 yards over his five punts with an average of 44.2 yards per punt. The distance was marked by remarkable accuracy, with all five of Hekker’s punts landing within the Chicago 10-yard line and two of these attempts hitting the Bears within their own five yards.
To put the numbers into perspective: Hekker is the first player in the last 30 years to have scored the ball at least five times in the same game and to have each attempt landed within the 10-yard line.
Hekker’s efforts put the Rams’ defense in a perfect field position to harass Chicago’s struggling offense, whose drives averaged only 4.8 games after his five punts.
His first attempt failed on the seven-yard line, and the Bears went out three times on the drive that followed. After the Rams’ second punt, the same scenario developed, with Chicago getting the ball on their own 10-yard line.
Hekker’s third punt that night was arguably his best attempt, a 57-yard bomb that stopped at the Bears’ one-yard line and resulted in the Bears getting a driver with three shots in a row for the third time in a row after a punt. Things then took a turn for the worse for Chicago when Nick Foles was intercepted after Hekker nailed the Bears with a booming 63-yard attempt inside their six-yard line.
Johnny Hekker has had the time of his life ð @JHekker @RamsNFL
ðº #CHIvsLAR on ESPN pic.twitter.com/stA5fnScia
– The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 27, 2020
With the Rams’ final punt that night, Hekker set the Bears back on their own five-yard line, causing Chicago to turn the ball around on the subsequent tee shot to Downs.
The Rams ran out a comfortable winner, improving to 5-2 for the season, and head coach Sean McVay was full of praise for Hekker.
“He was incredible,” McVay said in a postgame interview with Lisa Salters of ESPN.
“Having five punts all ending within the 10-yard line was a big deal. Very rarely do you give a punter a cue ball after a game, but tonight he deserved it.
Ram’s defensive player Aaron Donald picked up on his coach’s message and showered his teammate with praise.
“The best player in the National Football League,” said the two-time defensive player of the year.
“Johnny is consistent, he [can]make it every single week. He was a great help to us today. He did an amazing job, he was on fire. I think he deserves the cue ball. He had a hell of a game”…