Statistically, Sunday wasn’t Brad Maynard’s best game. The veteran Chicago Bears punter punted four times for a 35.0-yard average. Considering the brutal weather conditions in Sunday’s 35-7 win against Green Bay at Soldier Field, though, it was good enough for him to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Statistically, Sunday wasn’t Brad Maynard’s best game.
The veteran Chicago Bears punter punted four times for a 35.0-yard average. Considering the brutal weather conditions in Sunday’s 35-7 win against Green Bay at Soldier Field, though, it was good enough for him to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
"Obviously, the conditions were bad," said Maynard, as the winds whipped to 40 mph and the cold produced a wind chill of minus-18. "Deep down, I just feel like I did my job. I feel like I’ve had games like that a lot that my team notices that just doesn’t get noticed nationally."
Maynard said he’s seen worse conditions when he played for the New York Giants, although these were "pretty bad."
"I compare (Sunday) to the San Francisco game in 2004," he said. "The only thing that made that one worse was that it was so cold. But it was that (Sunday). When it gusted, it was next to impossible. I thought our guys handled it extremely well -- (snapper) Patrick Mannelly, (blocker) Garrett Wolfe, coach (Dave) Toub. We talked before the game about letting the wind die as much as possible, even taking a delay of game if we had to -- which, the last punt, we did.
"We’re fortunate that our coaches let us do that. I felt like you don’t know what‘s going to happen if you try to snap it when the wind was blowing as bad as it was. And me trying to kick it, I might miss the ball."
Don’t laugh. His counterpart, Green Bay’s Jon Ryan, fumbled one snap for a 10-yard loss, had one punt travel nine yards and had two blocked. By comparison, Maynard looked sensational – and that might have won him the award.
"Probably. I can’t say that for sure," Maynard said. "But probably."
Head coach Lovie Smith was impressed with Maynard's play.
"Special teams-wise, we got a lot of work done," Smith said. "A lot of guys played well. It's good to see a guy like Brad Maynard be selected special teams player of the week in the NFC. He did a great job punting the ball."
Maynard had one punt land inside the 20, a stat he leads the NFL in with 190 since joining the Bears in 2001. His total of 313 since entering the league as a third-round draft pick of the Giants in 1997 also is tops.
For the season, Maynard is averaging 41.7 yards per punt with a net of 37.0. The Bears rank third in punt return coverage (5.8 yards per return), and are second in forcing fair catches (19, with Atlanta first at 30).
Despite his credentials, this was Maynard’s first such weekly honor.
"Ha ha, Devin," he kidded, in reference to teammate Devin Hester, who this season was NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September and has been a three-time weekly winner.
Contributing: Gene Chamberlain
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.