Thursday, February 24, 2022

Top Kick-blocking Teams—A Selected List

by Nick Webster 
Chiefs got into the playoffs by devasting special teams performance versus Steelers in the season finale.
Part of digging up sacks gives you a chance to find other big plays like run/pass stuffs, forced fumbles, and not least—blocked kicks and punts.

So, my latest project is to paint a picture of the top teams that valued and executed the most kick blocks (placekicks and punts).

Here are some teams that did it very well. It is not a comprehensive list in that some teams have had some great years but we are skipping over to keep this post readable. In the future we will have fillers information, perhaps featuring the best kick blocking seasons for each team—something like that. 

1937 Washington
Turk Edwards
TheNFL Campions blocked at least nine with Turk Edwards having blocked four and Sammy Baugh blocked one. The problem with going back too far is we cannot find who had the four unidentified blocks. Maybe someday. 

1943 New York Giants
Frank Cope
The Giants were great in '42 and '44 as well so this era was a strong one, I have found eight blocks in 1943. Frank Cope blocked four in 1943 and Charley Avedisian blocked two and two others had one. 

1956 San Francisco 49ers 
Bob St. Clair 
This was the year that Bob St. Clair was rumored to have 10 blocks. He had at least three with one so far still unidentified so he may have had four and fellow Hall of Famer Leo Nomellini got three. We've found eight blocks for the '56 49ers. 

1961 Bears 
J.C. Caroline
One of the biggest single-season ever and a good era as well, basically you could count on getting a few each season of the Dave Whitsell era. 

The 1961 Bears had 12 blocks—Whitsell led with 4 and Larry Morris blocked 2 and JC Caroline got 2. Doug Atkins, Bill George, Fred Williams, and John Mellekas all blocked 1

1962 Giants: 
Dick Lynch
This unit had had 10 blocks. Sam Huff and Dick Lynch each blocked three. Patton, Grier, and Scott each got one and one is still unidentified. 

1971 Washington
This era for Washington was known for big special teams plays, in all aspects, and blocked kicks was no exception in 1971 they blocked seven—Ted Vactor led with three and Ron McDole had two Jon Jaqua and Chris Hanburger had one each. We mentioned them because they seemed to have big kick or punt blocks in ket times that won games over a several-year period. 

1986 Chiefs 
Kansas City has thwarted 11 kicks that season (eight were blocked): four blocked punts (three by Albert Lewis), two punter tackles (Lewis and Kevin Ross), two deflected punts (Lewis and Ross), two blocked field goals (Bill Maas) and one blocked extra point (Pete Koch).

Here is the tally, noting how many led to scores—
Sept. 7 vs. Cincinnati—Mark Robinson blocked punt, Deron Cherry recovered for TD.
Sept. 21 vs Houston—Pete Koch blocked extra point.
Oct. 5 vs. LA Raiders—Ross tackled punter trying to run.
Oct. 19 vs. San Diego— Albert Lewis blocked a punt that led to a score (deflected). 
Oct. 26 vs. Tampa Bay—Lewis tackled punter trying to run, leading to a score; Ross blocked punt (deflected).
Nov. 2 at San Diego—Bill Maas blocked field goal.
Nov. 16 at Denver—Lewis blocked punt, leading to a TD.
Dec. 7 vs. Denver— Lewis blocked punt, leading to a TD.
Dec. 21 vs. Pittsburgh—Lewis blocked punt and Cherry recovered for TD; Maas blocked field goal and Burruss returned it 78 yards for a TD; 

Then in the playoffs, Lewis blocked another punt. 

This season begs the question "What is a blocked punt?". If the rush is so great that the punter tries to run and he's tackled, it goes as either a sack (if he tried to pass in some way and the scorekeeper detected an attempt, i.e. the punter raised an arm)) or stuff (if no passes is attempted).

But if he's tackled it's really a devastating special teams play, not a defensive player, really. It is to the extent that a punt return team is really a defensive squad, but it makes more sense, as is done here to credit the tackled punter as a semi-block. 

Deflected punts would at least be noted. A punt can be blocked 10 yards deep and dribble past the line of scrimmage but it's then a punt, not a blocked punt. Come on. The definition should be if the rusher gets his hands on the ball enough to affect it and a 1-yard or 15-yard punt is a failure by the punt team. 

Finally, the Chiefs had a good run of blocks through 1990 or so. 

1968 Saints
Twelve for the 1968 Saints and Dave Whitsell (always on teams that blocked kicks—the catalyst) had at least four. Elijah Nevett had two as did Dave Rowe and Mike Tilleman. John Douglass 1. There is one missing, a block but we don't know who got it. Was it Whitsell's fifth? We just don't know at this point but will continue to search.

1960s Rams 
The 1962 Rams has 11 blocks, Eddie Meador had four and Deacon Jones had two and five players had one each. In 1963 the total was 10 blocks, the leader that year was Meader, Henry, McKeever, Pardee all had two. Deacon Jones and Cliff Livingston had one each.

The next season, 1964 the Rams blocked nine with Meador's three leading the way making it a total of 30 blocks in three seasons.

Continuing on with the 1960s the Rams dipped to just three in 1965 (Jones with two). But in 1966 they leaped to eight. Then in 1967, it was six, and in 1968 it was seven. In 1969 it was only two, but adding in 1960 and 1961 the 1960s total for Rams was 64 blocks—an average of 6.4 a season. 

1976-1981 Vikings 
In 1974 the Viking had just two blocks, in 1975 it was four but then they went on a tear—Minnesota blocked 13 kicks in the 1976 regular season—the most we've found. Nate Allen had five, Alan Page had four, Matt Blair had two, and Bobby Bryant and Eller had one. Then in the playoffs, they blocked three more. 

One sidenote:  There are differences in the gamebooks and the Vikings stat sheets likely composed by the coaches. They have Page with five and Allen with three and on other minor differences. That is on the agenda to figure out, sometimes different eyes see different things—the scorekeeper and the coach. My job is to report the facts as they are found.

So, continuing on—In 1977 the Vikes had six more and in 1978 they had nine. 

In 1979 they reached 13 again the second time in four years. The individual totals were Matt Blair five (all PATs), Randy Holloway (two FG and two PAT), and four others had one each.

The Vikings as a team had five each in 1980 and 1981. That's 52 blocked kicks or punts from 1976-81. Pretty heady stuff.  

The Vikings had a good span from 1969-71 with six ('69) six, ('70), and eight ('71), as well. 

As mentioned there will be more information over time but thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the top single-season or several-season performances that feature some of the best blockers ever.


  1.!, no make a double WOW!!....very impressive research Nick, and having seen some of these blocked kicks on film just adds to the story. My favorite block though is John Sandusky in 1951 against the Rams....Waterfield's field goal attempt is a line drive that hits Sandusky in the schnooze as he starts to break through the blockers at the line of scrimmage.

  2. Great job, pointing out players that havent gotten enough recognition for special teams/defensive play. Another reason why Lewis for KC and Blair for Minn were great players ...