Arizona Cardinals cornerback and special teams ace Justin Bethel has the reputation around the NFL of being perhaps the best special teams player there is. He can block kicks. He covers well and he is a great gunner on punts, able to get down the field faster than anyone else and make open field tackles.
He is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his play in Week 9, the team announced.
With the Cardinals holding a 14-10 lead just prior to halftime on Sunday, Bethel blocked Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal attempt, preserving Arizona's four-point lead. It was Bethel's third blocked field goal in his career, and the team's second blocked field goal this season. After leading the Cardinals with 21 special teams tackles last season, Bethel once again leads the team with eight special teams tackles so far in 2014.
Dating back to 2008, the Cardinals have blocked 18 field goals, the highest total in the NFL during that span (Seattle, 17). Their 20 total blocked kicks (18 FG, 2 Punt) also lead the league since 2008.
Bethel is the 17th different Cardinals player to be honored as Special Teams Player of the Week and it is the 24th time in team history that a Cardinal was selected as Special Teams Player of the Week. He becomes the third different Cardinals player this season to be named Special Teams Player of the Week after Ted Ginn, Jr. was selected following the Cardinals win over the Giants in Week 2 and Chandler Catanzaro was honored following Arizona's win vs. Washington in Week 6.
Bethel's selection marks the second time in as many weeks that a Cardinals player was chosen as "Player of the Week." WR Larry Fitzgerald earned offensive honors following the Cardinals Week 8 victory over Philadelphia. It is the fourth consecutive year the Cardinals have had back-to-back selections as John Abraham (Defensive, Week 14) and Jay Feely (Special Teams, Week 15) were selected in 2013, Calais Campbell (Defensive, Week 2) and Fitzgerald (Offensive, Week 3) were honored in 2012 and Patrick Peterson (Special Teams, Week 9) and Fitzgerald (Offense, Week 10) were chosen in 2011.
It is the first time in team history that three different players were selected as Special Teams Player of the Week in the same season. The Cardinals three Special Teams Player of the Week selections are also tied for the most in a single season in team history (2009).