It's long been an elusive number for NFL punters until the past couple of seasons. As successful a punter as Brian Moorman has been in his career, he has never achieved the figure for an entire regular season. Until now. The Bills punter for the first time eclipsed the 40-yard net punting average in 2009, finishing with a net average of 40.2 for the season.
"As far as the 40-yard net it was something (special teams coordinator) Bobby April talked about before the last game with the team because it is a team stat," said Moorman. "I don't think I've ever seen him so excited when I told him that we made it and all the other guys excited too. It was a fun thing to accomplish and a fun thing to go out and work towards."
Moorman has flirted with a net average of 40 yards before, but when the weather turns bad near the end of the season in Buffalo it makes maintaining such an average far more difficult. The ball doesn't carry as far in colder temperatures and there are the whipping winds that show up in early November that can wreak havoc on a punter's effectiveness.
But Moorman overcame all of that this season.
"To be able to net 40 yards in Buffalo is a real accomplishment, not just for me, but the punt team and for coach April," said Moorman. "I think it's a testament to how well he prepares them and how much pride those guys take in special teams. So I thank them for making me look good."
Other NFL punters that have broken the 40-yard net average barrier have not had to deal with the elements as Moorman has over the years. Shane Lechler, who set the league record for net punting average this season with a remarkable 43.9-yard net, and owns three of the top five net averages in league history, has kicked his entire career in Oakland.
Donnie Jones, who owns the second and fourth best net averages all time kicks inside of a dome for the St. Louis Rams. Andy Lee, who has two 40-yard net averages seasons in the last three years, kicks in San Francisco. And Mike Scifres and Ben Graham, who surpassed the 40-yard net plateau in 2007 and 2009 respectively, kick in San Diego and Arizona.
The only other punters that kick in conditions close to what Moorman endures in Buffalo and have achieved the 40-yard net are Giants punter Jeff Feagles (2008) and Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt (2009).
"Colquitt had a really good year and he's kicking in Kansas City, which is not Oakland," said Moorman. "Of course it's not quite Buffalo either. Not taking anything away from the guys that have done the 40-yard net, it's a huge accomplishment and it takes a lot of hard work to do. I wasn't able to make it to the Pro Bowl, but I was an alternate and that was nice. Shane Lechler had an amazing year."
In addition to his best net punting average season, Moorman also set a career high in gross punting average with a mark of 46.6.
"It was a good year overall," Moorman said. "I'm happy with it. It gives me something to build on and work towards and like I said a lot of it goes to the guys covering. They did a good job. I just hope I can improve on that next year."