EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings special teams units were a major component in Minnesota consistently playing complementary football in 2017.
The Vikings return teams helped set up the offense with advantageous field position and also frequently pinned opponents deep in their own territory with effective directional punting and hustle plays by the punt coverage team members.
Kai Forbath totaled a career-best 130 points. He made 32 of 38 field goals and 34 of 39 extra points in turning in the sixth season of 130 or more points by a player in Vikings franchise history.
Forbath also handled all kickoff duties for the Vikings in his first full season in Minnesota.
Ryan Quigley made his Vikings debut in 2017, and the veteran excelled at pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line. Quigley averaged 42.2 yards per punt and netted 39.2, thanks to a solid coverage unit. The Vikings net average took a hit in the final week of the regular season when Chicago implemented trickery for a 59-yard return touchdown.
Quigley also handled holding duties. He took long snaps from Kevin McDermott, who played 15 games before a season-ending shoulder injury, David Morgan in an emergency role at Green Bay, and Jeff Overbaugh in Week 17 and the postseason.
Marcus Sherels finished tied for seventh in the NFL with an average of 9.5 yards on punt returns. Sherels led the NFL with a career-high 39 punt returns and totaled a career-best 372 yards. He had a long of 46 against Baltimore, prompting the Ravens to punt the ball out of bounds on their next two kicks.
Sherels also handled kickoff return duties after Jerick McKinnon’s role on offense increased because of the Week 4 injury to Dalvin Cook.
Sherels totaled 271 yards on 11 kickoff returns with a long of 32. McKinnon returned 12 kickoffs a total of 312 yards.
Rookie Ben Gedeon led all Vikings with 18 tackles on special teams.
View the Vikings best special teams photos of 2017.
0 touchbacks — Quigley became the second punter in NFL history (since 1991 when the record began being tracked) to go through an entire season without a touchback. He punted 71 times and tied Washington’s Sav Rocca (84 in 2013) for the record. Quigley downed 29 of his punts inside an opponent’s 20-yard line, and the coverage team helped him down four punts at the 2.
The Vikings knew field position would be important against the Ravens in Week 7 because of the need to keep Baltimore out of the range of kicker Justin Tucker.
Minnesota’s coverage teams were successful in helping with field position, and Forbath did more than go toe-to-toe with the two-time Pro Bowler.
The Vikings limited Tucker to three field goal attempts, and he made all three. Forbath, however, set a personal best with six field goals.
Forbath was true from 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards and garnered NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The six field goals made in a game are tied for second-most in team history.
Regular Season Stats
K Kai Forbath
130 points, 32 of 38 field goals, 34 of 39 extra points
20-29 yards: 8-for-8
30-39 yards: 12-for-14
40-49 yards: 6-for-7
50-plus yards: 6-for-9
P Ryan Quigley
71 punts, 2,994 yards, 42.2 yards per punt, 39.2 net average, 29 punts inside 20-yard line, long of 56, 0 touchbacks
LS Kevin McDermott
LS Jeff Overbaugh
KR Jerick McKinnon
12 returns, 312 yards, 26.0 yards per return, long of 39
KR Marcus Sherels
11 returns, 271 yards, 24.6 yards per return, long of 32
KR Stacy Coley
One return, 19 yards
KR Mack Brown
One return, 17 yards
PR Marcus Sherels
39 returns, 372 yards, 9.5 yards per return, long of 46, 24 fair catches
PR Stacy Coley
Two fair catches
18 special teams tackles (11 solo)
16 special teams tackles (10 solo)
15 special teams tackles (11 solo)
14 special teams tackles (nine solo)
11 special teams tackles (six solo), one forced fumble
Nine special teams tackles (six solo)
Six special teams tackles (five solo)
Five special teams tackles (three solo)
Four special teams tackles (two solo), one fumble recovery
Three special teams tackles (two solo)
“I think any time you play a good defense, good offense and another good football team, it does come down to field position. I know we talk about it all the time with our guys. We talk about complementary football. [Against New Orleans in the Divisional], our defense forced a three-and-out. We get a punt return to the 45. We go down and score, and it’s 7-0. That is how you play the game right there. Good teams do that, and we needed to do that on Sunday to help our team win.”
— Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer on special teams helping the Vikings against the Saints