The Arizona Cardinals special teams have emerged as a real bright spot this season. Patrick Peterson has set an NFL record with four punt return touchdowns all going over 80 yards (and he's a rookie, and there's four games left) and the team leads the NFL with four blocked field goals this season.
On punt returns, according to coach Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt, teams are now forced to kick away from Peterson which can improve field position as the punter doesn't get optimal distance on his kick. Peterson, in other words, is helping the team even when he's not touching the ball.
The same can be said for the Cardinals field goal defense.
Not only do the Cardinals lead the NFL in blocked field goals, they also have recorded the more missed field goals against them (9) than any other team in the game.
According to two Cardinals players with direct knowledge of the situation, that's no accident.
"I feel like any time a kicker is getting ready to kick the ball they know we have the ability to block it, so it's in the back of their minds," the field goal blocking machine, Calais Campbell said, adding, "There's been a bunch of games where kickers have missed kicks and we just got good pressure and we didn't get a block. Even talking to (Cardinals kicker) Jay Feely, he'll tell you anytime you have a good rush team it's in the back of (the kicker's) mind."
"I know (St. Louis Rams kicker) Josh Brown missed his kick because he was trying to rush and trying to get the ball up quick. You could tell it was a change in his form trying to get it elevated quickly trying to get it over Calais (Campbell) and the rest of our rush. There's not question they're having an impact not just by blocking kicks but on what a kick's trying to do and not being able to be in their comfort zone and do what they normally would do."
There you have it. Two Cardinals defenders impacting the game even when they don't touch the ball. Not a bad bit of work.