When you have a punter that's a member of the franchise's 50th All-Time Team, the most accurate kicker in team history and one of the more accomplished return men in the game as teammates on special teams, it's hard to get noticed. But Bills fans recognized John Wendling in a big way as the expert cover man convincingly won Special Teams MVP honors for the 2009 season.
Wendling took almost half the votes in a Buffalobills.com online poll where kicker Rian Lindell, punter Brian Moorman and fellow cover man Ashlee Palmer were also nominees. He finished as the team's second leading special teams tackler in 2008, but finished at the top of the tackle list in 2009 with 26 on the season. Wendling accounted for almost one-fifth of all the special teams tackles by the Bills this season.
The gunner was instrumental in helping punter Brian Moorman achieve a net punting average of 40.2 setting a new team record. Only eight times in league history has a team finished the season with a net average of 40 or higher.
"To be able to net 40 yards in Buffalo is a real accomplishment, not just for me, but the punt team," said Moorman. "I think it's a testament to how much pride those guys take in special teams. So I thank them for making me look good."
Wendling had several multiple tackle outings, including his impressive three tackle performance in the Bills Week 7 win at Carolina when the Bills held the Panthers to just 12 yards on six punt returns.
But his biggest play came the week before at the Meadowlands against the Jets in Week 6. With the score tied at 13 in overtime, the Jets were lining up for a potential game-winning field goal.
When a botched snap forced the Jets into an impromptu pass play Wendling was ready intercepting the pass thrown by Sean Weatherford by out leaping everyone else for the ball.
Lindell eventually kicked a game-winning field goal minutes late in overtime for a 16-13 victory.
Wendling has become a leader on Buffalo's coverage units and one of their most consistent performers. Though returns for touchdowns and game-winning field goals often grab the headlines on special teams, Bills fans made sure that Wendling's contributions did not go unrewarded.