Notebook: Kluwe, Longwell kickin' it

Chris Kluwe and Ryan Longwell are both experiencing solid starts to the season with a few different statistics. The two are having a special start despite the overall record of the Vikings.

Chris Kluwe has always had the leg to punt it deep, but he might not have had the knack for directional kicking and putting on the hang time.

If Sunday's game was any indication, the consistency is improving – albeit not perfect yet – and hang time is giving his coverage units time to make a play.

Kluwe averaged 43.2 yards on his punts and had the uncommon statistic of having the same net punting average. Three of his punts were fair-caught, one was downed and one was returned for no yards.

Four of his five kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line. That's a very solid day.

"Kluwe put us inside the 15-yard line three times, allowed us to get down and cover. Maybe as big a play as there was in the game was (Chad) Greenway recovering that muff. Great hang time," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "Typically the people that you see lead in that category in terms of returns not coming up the field are teams that can hang the football high in allowing our coverage to get down there. He's just doing a tremendous job and he's doing a tremendous job with that directional kicking."

Kluwe has occasionally been a top-five punter when it comes to gross average, but his net – which takes into account the return yardage – has held him back. Now with better hang time, he's ranked third in the league in net average at 41.9 yards. His gross average of 43.9 yards is only 16th, but net is what matters in the battle of field position.

Childress said Kluwe's improved hang time is a matter of taking a different approach mentally.

"It is. Not just taking it and bombing it," Childress said.

Last year, Kluwe's net was 37.8, tied for 20th in the league.

Kluwe is also tied for first in punts that are downed (four) and tied for sixth in punts inside the 20-yard line (six). The most telling stat might be that Kluwe already has 14 punts, which is about average after three games, but only four of those have been returned for an incredible 7 yards.

That shows that the coverage unit is also tending to its job, even on the occasion when Kluwe makes a mistake, which happened once Sunday and actually resulted in the muffed catch that the Vikings recovered.


Ryan Longwell is also having a good year kicking off.

Despite not getting a touchback Sunday, Longwell had four of his five kickoffs go into the end zone against Detroit.

His distance has improved from last year. This year, he is averaging 67.5 yards per kickoff, tied for 10th in the league. Last year, he averaged 63.7, ranking 26th.


When Jason Hanson missed a 44-yard field goal wide left to end a second-quarter drive on Sunday, it marked the third straight field goal attempted against the Vikings that was missed.

Hanson rebounded to make a 33-yarder later in the game, putting opponents at 1-for-4 on the season against Minnesota.


Through three weeks, the NFL has experienced six kickoff-return touchdowns, tying for the most recorded through the first three weeks of a season since 1970. The most kickoff-return touchdowns through four weeks of a season is seven, which was achieved in 2007.


A couple of notes that have nothing to do with special teams:

  • Former Vikings receiver Randy Moss had two touchdown receptions against the Bills last week, giving him 151 career touchdown receptions. Moss and Jerry Rice (197) are the only players in NFL history with at least 150 TD catches. Moss now has 14,604 career receiving yards, surpassing Marvin Harrison's 14,580 and moving Moss into fifth place for most receiving yards in NFL history.

  • Moss' current QB, Tom Brady, is approaching a Brett Favre mark. Brady has now won 22 consecutive regular-season starts at home, tying John Elway for second-most consecutive home wins as a starting quarterback since 1970. Favre has the longest such streak since 1970 with 25 consecutive home wins with the Green Bay Packers (1995-1998).

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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