The Vikings lost their season-opener by a 14-9 count at the Superdome in New Orleans on Thursday evening. And while nothing short of victory is acceptable on game days, there are always some positives to point out, even in a loss.
One of the positives from Thursday night was the punting performance of Chris Kluwe.
It was on the very same field where the Vikings opened the 2010 season that Kluwe had perhaps his most infamous performance as a Viking back in 2008. In that game, Kluwe punted to Saints RB/punt returner Reggie Bush 5 times and the dynamic playmaker turned those 5 punts into 176 return yards and 2 TDs. After one of Bush’s returns, Kluwe got an earful from Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress.
But the Vikings 6-year veteran suffered no such fate this year. In fact it was quite the opposite. Kluwe, who has blossomed into one of the NFL’s better punters, did an outstanding job on Thursday night, as he and the Vikings coverage units held Bush to just 7 total punt return yards on 3 attempts.
When Bush takes the field at the Superdome to return a punt, the home crowd chants “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” But Kluwe was able to silence those chants on Thursday night with high-arching kicks that were accurately placed and allowed the Vikings coverage units to converge on Bush.
Kluwe had 7 punts on the evening and totaled 310 gross punt yards, which averages out to a 44.3-yard average; Kluwe’s net average was 43.3 and 2 of his 7 punts landed inside the 20-yardline. Also, only 3 of the 7 punts were returned.
More impressive than those numbers though, was the field position Kluwe was able to create for the Vikings. Kluwe’s 1st punt of the game came from the Minnesota 27. But because Bush was forced to call a fair catch after a booming 46-yard punt, New Orleans was starting on their own 27.
Then Kluwe displayed his accuracy on the next punt, dropping one down on the Saints 4-yardline from 2 yards beyond midfield. There were 3 other times when Kluwe had punts from inside the Minnesota 30-yardline than ended up giving the Saints the ball inside of their own 35.
All of that unfortunately didn’t help the Vikings pull out a victory, but it is a legitimate positive to take away from a disappointing loss.
Tags: Chris Kluwe
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