Mesko couldn't see blocked punt coming

Mesko couldn't see blocked punt coming
September 16, 2012, 10:56 pm
Share This Post

FOXBORO -- The blocked punt surprised Zoltan Mesko, too.
"Really what I see is the ball; I concentrate on the ball. There's things that I can control, there's the punting part, and there's things that I can't. But I felt like the operation, the rhythm went alright. Maybe just the protection -- I believe on the left side -- broke down."
That is exactly what happened.
Third quarter. New England is up on Arizona, 9-6. Mesko prepares to punt from the Patriots end zone. The ball is snapped, but ask Mesko is preparing for his drop, Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves springs up out of his stance and brushes off New England rookie Nate Ebner like lint on a lapel.
Mesko's punt was blocked -- the first time in his three-year career.
It's clear, when watching replays of Groves diving between Mesko's hurdling legs, he didn't even see it coming.
"It's kind of a peripheral thing where you have to have trust in your teammates to get him out of the way," he explained in the post game. "Just like Tom Brady has to wait until the last second sometimes, and then they'll wash him out. It just happened that way.
"It happened so fast. The double tap? (Mesko's foot hitting the ball and the ball hitting Groves) It sounded like one. I didn't know it was blocked. I thought I was going to get another roughing penalty. up until I saw the ball out of the corner of my left eye."
The Cardinals are pesky that way. They've lead the NFL in blocked field goal attempts in each of the last three seasons. Last week against Seattle, Calais Campbell blocked a 50-yard FGA on the Seahawks' first offensive possession of the game.
During last week's preparation, Bill Belichick devoted several sentences to praising Arizona's kick and punt coverage groups, saying "They're a very good special teams unit that we have to worry about every time they're on the field."
Little did he know.
It took the Cardinals 49 seconds after Mesko's blocked punt to cover the two yards needed for a touchdown -- and the lead.
But not unlike teammate Stephen Gostkowski, who missed the 42-yard game-winning kick in the final five seconds, Mesko isn't planning to dwell on what went wrong.
No specialist can afford that luxury.
"Steve put it best: We wouldn't be out there if we didn't know that we risk failure every time. It's on us and how to bounce back, and how we handle it, and that's our job."