Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals returns a punt for an 80 yard for touchdown against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 27, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Rams 23-20.
Arizona Cardinals rookie cornerback has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. If you watched the St. Louis lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, you should already have a pretty good clue as to why he won the award. Also worth noting, this was not the first time Peterson won the award this season, not even the first time he won the award for a special teams performance against the Rams.
Peterson returned a punt for an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter this week. That gave the Cardinals a 20-13 lead over the Rams. Peterson's punt return came after Rams head coach made a controversial decision not to go for it on fourth-and-inches.
Under normal circumstances, the decision to punt there would have raised only a few hackles. However, the Rams have nothing to lose, and need to take every chance that they can get to win. As Bernie Miklasz pointed out, the Rams are 9-for-11 over the last two years converting fourth-and-one. Spagnuolo has his default set to conservative as if he's coaching his former Giants or Eagles teams, where winning was a regular thing.
Punter Donnie Jones was never supposed to punt to Peterson. He misfired the punt right over the plate, and the special teams failed to box in Peterson. Game over.
St. Louis had a punt-return touchdown of their own, in the first quarter as Nick Miller raced 88-yards for the score. It was the only game in NFL history in which both teams returned a punt for 80+ yards and a touchdown. So there's that.