Pat McAfee was not having a good year, and people were beginning to talk about it. That all changed on Sunday night, when suddenly the player who the Colts used their franchise tag on this offseason turned in the best game of his career.
It started as just another average night, as his first punt was just 32 yards. Shortly after that, however, on a kickoff with 1:20 left in the first quarter, McAfee delivered a play that not only set the tone for his game but for the game as a whole.
Broncos' excellent return man Trindon Holliday broke another return (which he has done often this season) and this one gained 56 yards. But at the end of it, Pat McAfee - affectionately known as "the Boomstick" by Colts fans - delivered the boom. Holliday was running along the sidelines with just McAfee to beat, and the punter absolutely laid him out. McAfee - who has an 8 inch, 64 pound advantage on the extremely small Holliday - described his tackling technique on Monday:
"It's a nice bait-and-tackle, blind squirrel find a nut technique. I just kind of run as fast as I can with my eyes closed and hope he ends up in front of me."
There was some discussion of whether it was helmet to helmet hit, but it wasn't - and besides, calling a helmet to helmet hit on the punter?!? But it wasn't as he didn't lead with the crown of his helmet and it wasn't on a defenseless player. And, as McAfee said, he wasn't even looking and just had his eyes closed running at Holliday. NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth said after the hit (which elicited an excited "OHHH!" from him in real time) that:
"I don't think I've ever seen a kicker with this kind of hit... Pat McAfee is going to be legend among all kickers everywhere... that was awesome!"
Others liked it too:
I do love that McAfee took a perfect angle on the fastest runner in the NFL— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) October 21, 2013
Apparently McAfee blew someone up. He's done that before, he's a monster.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) October 21, 2013
That was my favorite tackle of the season— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) October 21, 2013
It was an amazing hit and it was so amazing that the NFL in fact decided to "randomly" drug test McAfee the next day:
Everybody was talking about the hit, and understandably so. But what people are neglecting to pay attention to is that McAfee punted 9 times in the game and pinned 6 of them inside the 20 yard line. That's incredible. He averaged 48.9 yards per punt with a long of 60, and had 4 of his 8 kickoffs go for touchbacks. It wasn't just his hit - which has dominated all the headlines - it was his punting too. The hit was great, but the Boomstick was at it's best Sunday night, and Pat McAfee was a huge contribution to the Colts' win. And, of course, it all started with one of the best hits you'll ever see a kicker make. Even better - Colts fans weren't really surprised that McAfee did it, either.
As Chuck Pagano joked on Monday: "I'm thinking about moving Pat (McAfee) to linebacker or safety. I always knew he had it in him."
Don't move him quite yet, Coach, because he's still a heck of a punter too.