Unless you’re Pat McAfee, being an NFL punter is one of the most thankless tasks in the league. When you do come on to the field, it’s only because the offense failed to do its job on the previous three downs. Whenever people notice you, it’s only because you screwed up royally. Kansas City Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend experienced this for himself on Sunday in the biggest game of them all.
Who the heck is Tommy Townsend?
The Chiefs signed Townsend to replace a Kansas City fixture. His predecessor was Dustin Colquitt, who had served in the role since 2005. Colquitt left the team after last year’s Super Bowl and bounced around two other NFL teams this season.
Townsend’s brother, Johnny, is also an NFL punter. At one point, the two were actually on the same roster. Johnny was briefly on the Chiefs’ practice squad before signing with the Baltimore Ravens.
For Townsend, the Super Bowl was a homecoming of sorts. The game was in Tampa, Florida, not far from his alma mater of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
A pretty cushy NFL punting job
If Townsend could have picked any team to punt for, he definitely would have picked the Kansas City Chiefs — a team with such a high-powered offense that they hardly needed to use him. In the 16 regular-season games, the Chiefs called upon Townsend’s leg 52 times, for an average of just over three punts per game.
In the Chiefs’ two postseason games preceding Super Bowl LV, Townsend came onto the field exactly once. For the team’s divisional playoff win over the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City did not need to punt at all. So you can forgive him for being a little bit rusty when the Super Bowl came around.
Townsend’s leg fails to deliver for the Chiefs
At Super Bowl LV, Townsend’s luck ran out. The Chiefs’ high-powered offense fell flat in the early stages of the game, forcing their punter to do more work than expected. It seems that the rookie cracked under the Super Bowl pressure. His first punt went well enough, but on his second try, he hooked it out of bounds for only 27 yards.
Late in the first half, Townsend redeemed himself a 56-yard punt. Unfortunately, Ben Niemann committed offensive holding, one of many costly penalties that haunted the Chiefs throughout the game. This backed Townsend into his own end zone to redo the punt, which he utterly shanked out of bounds to the Chiefs’ own 38. The Buccaneers promptly took the ball down the field for a touchdown in eight plays.
Thankfully for Townsend’s sake, the Chiefs did not call for a punt at any point in the second half. The team was in such a hole that they had no choice but to go for it on every fourth down.
As for his opposing number, Tampa Bay punter Bradley Pinion? His evening was much more pleasant. The Buccaneers had to call on his number four times, all of which came before halftime.