Final preseason game. Starters on the bench. A 6-3 final score.
Steve Weatherford is jacked.
While a combined three field goals in 60 minutes of play might not be everyone’s favorite brand of football, it did give the punters a workout on Wednesday night as the preseason drew to a close.
There were 18 total punts in the defending champs’ victory, split evenly between the Giants’ Weatherford and the Patriots’ Zoltan Mesko. Weatherford punted nine times (seven in the first half alone) for a 52.0-yard average and a long of 64. He also had boots of 59, 52, 55, and 58 yards, with two downed inside the 20-yard line.
“Having a performance like that going into the regular season, it’s actually a boost of confidence,” he said after the game. “I was confident going into this game, but coming out of this game, I thought I punted really well. There are still some things I want to work on, but for the most part I’m happy walking out of here.”
The amount of punts wasn’t shocking to Weatherford not only because it was the final exhibition game, but also because it was against the Patriots. Despite two elite quarterbacks on each side, a matchup between two teams with a lot of history together often equates to a field position battle.
Case in point: Weatherford punted eight times in last year’s Week 9 matchup, pinning five inside the 20. Then again in Super Bowl XLVI, Weatherford had four punts, three of which were downed inside the 20.
“It was a field position game,” Weatherford said. “It usually is when we play these guys. I think about the last couple times I played them, we both have great quarterbacks – obviously Tom Brady wasn’t playing tonight – but when he is, it’s a field position battle. So tonight they relied on me a little bit, and I was happy with the outcome.”
Punting isn’t his only duty, though. Weatherford held Lawrence Tynes’ late 32-yard field goal, which wound up being the clincher in Wednesday night’s victory. It wasn’t exactly in the mud at Candlestick Park to win the NFC Championship, but it was good to get the rep in before the regular season kicks off in less than a week.
“Tynes has hit some bigger ones than that one,” Weatherford joked. “But it was fun to be a part of.”
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