The Buffalo Bills’ first preseason game gave fans the first example as to why rookie punter Matt Araiza was known as the “Punt God” in college.
Known for his big leg during his four years at San Diego State, Araiza booted one 82 yards against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday. The left-footer’s first punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback, but was still a spectacle to see nonetheless.
Shoutout to Araiza for showing that not only are punters people too, they’re good athletes in their own right. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the f****** show,” Pat McAfee said in a Twitter video, in awe of Araiza’s punt.
Matt Araiza Has Extra Motivation to Succeed After Slipping in 2022 NFL Draft
So much for the narrative that Araiza couldn’t adjust to the NFL, eh? Araiza set an NCAA record in 2021 after averaging 51.19 yards per punt. He was the recipient of the Ray Guy Award as the top punter in the nation. So surely Araiza was the first punter selected in 2022 NFL Draft, right?
Two punters were drafted ahead of Araiza. Penn State’s Jordan Stout was selected 130th overall in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers then took Georgia’s Jake Camarda three picks later. It wasn’t until the 180th pick in the sixth-round did the Buffalo Bills call Araiza’s name.
And unlike Stout and Camarda, Araiza isn’t guaranteed the starting job. To become P1, Araiza will have to beat out Matt Haack, who served as the Bills’ punter last season. It’s no big deal for Araiza, however, who is out to prove all of his detractors wrong.
“I’ve been asked a couple of times and I think the truest answer for me is that a lot of that’s coming from the fans,” Araiza said two weeks ago at training camp. “I was the fourth specialist drafted and I believe I’m the only one that’s still competing for a job. So for me this year is more about proving people wrong than proving people right. I don’t feel a great burden to go out there and prove people, right. I’m trying to prove that I was the best specialist in the draft.”
Oh, and as for the 82-yard bomb, Araiza still has a ways to go to set the all-time NFL record for longest punt. The record has stood for 53 years, when the New York Jets’ Steve O’Neal blasted one 98 yards against the Denver Broncos in 1969.