By now, everyone knows (or should know) the New Orleans Saints punter’s name: Blake Gillikin. Gillikin recently made headlines for his punting heroics in Week 5 against the Washington Football Team, when he recorded 268 yards on five kicks with a long of 60.
Punts are hardly on any sports channels’ highlight reels, so a brief recap: in the second quarter, Gillikin booted a 60-yarder roll to the 1-yard line, in the third quarter he had a 57-yarder roll out of the bounds at the 3, and in the fourth quarter he had a 53-yarder that put Washington’s first down at the 2.
Gillikin was so insanely good he overshadowed Jameis Winston and his four touchdown haul, though Winston was one of the first to praise Gillikin’s performance. Sean Payton also called Gillikin “outstanding” four times in a post-game press conference. Hell, even the opposing team’s QB had something nice to say about the Saints’ punter.
The league, however, wasn’t so impressed. Gillikin put on a Meryl Streep-performance (think Sophie’s Choice, not Mamma Mia) in Week 5 that should have won him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Instead, that award went to Philadelphia Eagles’ T.J. Edwards.
New Orleans Saints punter Blake Gillikin was robbed of Player of the Week award in Week 5
We’re not sure if the NFL has a complaint hotline, but if so, Saints fans should be calling the league like crazy right now.
Edwards had a noteworthy kick-blocking performance which was a turning point in Philly’s comeback win against the Panthers, but that kind of play isn’t all that uncommon in the league. Gillikin’s punts are.
According to ESPN, Gillikin became the first NFL punter since at least 2000 to have three punts of 50-plus yards downed inside the 5-yard line.
This was also only Gillikin’s fifth career NFL game after spending last year on injured reserve, and he was an undrafted rookie.
The only silver lining might be fellow teammate Marshon Lattimore winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week, but Gillikin still deserves more credit for what he achieved against Washington.
Throwing touchdowns and blocking kicks are the obvious big plays, but allowing your team to gain an advantageous field position at crucial moments in the game? Gillikin’s performance, while subtler than others, shows how the small victories do just as much to win a game. It’s just too bad the league can’t see that.
Punter has always been one of the most overlooked positions in football, and after Gillikin’s league honor robbery, it’s clear that it will remain that way.