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HOUSTON – (CBS Houston): When you turn on NBC’s Sunday Night Football programming for the Texans and 49ers game you won’t want to be watching the quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers or safeties that are Pro Bowlers. You are going to wamt to watch the punters. Yep, the punters. The two best players at their respective positions in the NFL today will be on the field together and you should be paying attention, because they aren’t just good at their job. They are ridiculously amazing at their job.
They have been dominating their respective positions for a decade and for most of that decade they did it playing in stadiums just a bridge ride away from each other.
The Texans Lechler was drafted in the 5th round of the 2000 draft by the Oakland Raiders. He’s in his first year in Houston and has been so good for the Texans placing almost 60% of his punts this season inside the 20 yard line. Twenty-two punts this season for the Texas A&M alum and 13 of them have been downed in the opponents red zone. Against the Titans in week two Lechler landed five of his seven punts inside the twenty. With the second ranked defense in total yards allowed taking the field after all those punts, it only helps the Texans garner better field position.
The Niners Lee came into the league four years after Lechler, drafted in the 6th round by San Francisco of the 2004 draft. Lee hasn’t started out the year as solid as Lechler pinning only about 22% of his 23 punts inside the opponents twenty. We’ll call it small sample size right now, heading into just the fifth game of the year.
So let’s look at these two as since they’ve been in the NFL together. For ten years these two punters played across the Bay Bridge from each other and they were close in pretty much every aspect of their on the field game as well. For the past eight seasons both have finished in the top ten in punt average. Three of those season finishing one and two. Lechler has finished first or second in punt average in 10 of his 14 years in the league. 2012 was Lechler’s lowest ranking, finishing the season ranked 10th.
Andy Lee even started developing a new kick this season to add to his arsenal. A knuckle punt. Straight of out Mighty Ducks 2. A punt that has no spin and just kind of shifts and moves all over without any sort of direction could be devastating for return men.
How is this amount of greatness on one field not being talked about more?
While Lee and Lechler won’t be seen behind Carrie Underwood on Sunday Night, and they won’t be directly responsible for points on the board (although both do hold for field goals and extra points and excel at that as well), anytime you get to see two of the greatest the game has to offer in their position you should be excited.
Now I beg you to pay attention to them. You won’t be sorry. Don’t use that incomplete three yards short of the sticks on third down as your moment to get up and grab another drink, sit down, and watch, because that is the moment the masters of the craft step on the field. Chances are they are going to do something fantastic. Chances are, no one will notice, but me.