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Albert McClellan gets robbed of AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award

A curious decision to say the least.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After every new round of games, the NFL announces its players of the week in all three phases of the game. The AFC and the NFC get one winner each for offense, for defense, and for special teams. With the New England Patriots playing an inconsistent game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday there was only one realistic candidate to win one of the awards this week: special teamer Albert McClellan.

The 32-year old was on the field for 62% kicking game snaps during the Patriots’ 34-33 loss and did something no player has been able to do in 15 years: McClellan blocked two of the Dolphins’ punts, a feat last achieved by the New York GiantsOsi Umenyiora against the Carolina Panthers during the final week of the 2003 regular season. Given how rarely this happens, McClellan should have been a shoo-in to get the trophy.

However, the NFL had a different plan in mind and named the Los Angeles ChargersMichael Badgley the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week. The rookie made all six of the kicks he attempted on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals: Badgley split the uprights on all four of his field goals — a franchise record 59-yarder as well as kicks from 31, 31 and 45 yards out — and both his extra point attempts.

How rarely does a combination like this happen? Before Badgley’s 4/4 and 2/2 outing, there were 16 other instances in 2018 alone when kickers did the same or performed even better. Only one of those — the New York JetsJason Myers making all seven of his field goal attempts and all three extra points in week six — led to player of the week recognition. Safe to say that McClellan got snubbed this week.

There might actually be a reason for it, however, albeit a silly one: the league classifies only punts that do not gain yardage as blocks. The second one McClellan got his hands onto traveled for 2 yards before the Dolphins’ Brandon Bolden downed it. In the official stat sheet made by the NFL, the play did not count as a block but rather a deflection. It would not be a surprise, if the voters only looked at the stats and concluded “eh, we go with the kick from L.A. on this one.”

With Badgley winning the award over McClellan, the Patriots stay at one AFC player of the week this year: linebacker Dont’a Hightower won it in week seven for — you guessed it — blocking a punt. A single one.