It's not exciting and it's often overlooked, but it's nevertheless a vital part of any football game.
At best, a punting unit hopes to make it through a game without being a part of the storyline, one way or another. The long snapper hopes to get off a clean snap, the punter hopes to get off a good kick and the coverage guys hope to prevent a big return or down the ball inside the 10-yard line.
Yet for two straight weeks, rookie punter Zoltan Mesko has been a major part of Patriots games, but both times were for good reasons.
After coming through with a huge 65-yard boot in overtime to pin the Ravens deep in their own territory last week, Mesko delivered an impressive performance with more than just his leg on Sunday in San Diego.
Second-year long snapper Jake Ingram was as shaky as shaky can be, making three bad snaps and picking up a holding call for tackling a rushing Charger on a first-quarter punt. The punting unit was also charged with a delay of game, though there was likely more than just one party at fault there.
Fortunately for Ingram, the rookie had his back.
Mesko handled the bad snaps, including one that bounced, and still managed to get off decent punts.
Mesko averaged 38.3 yards per punt, with two landing inside the 20. Only one was returned, a 12-yard scamper by the dangerous Darren Sproles.
Considering how many mistakes the Chargers were making all game, and considering how the Patriots were unable to capitalize on them, a blocked punt or botched snap may have turned the game around in favor of the Chargers. Thanks to Mesko, the Patriots never had to find out.
It's all good news from Mesko, who came into the season with a bit of fanfare but underwhelmed a bit in the earylgoing. Since the bye week, though, he's downed four punts inside the 20 in two games and has played a small yet significant role in two Patriot victories.
Had Mesko not been as sharp as he was the past two weeks, it's very possible the Patriots could be 3-3.
Not bad for a punter.