Matt Araiza is entering the NFL this year with more hype than any punter in recent league history, and somehow, he's already living up to it.
With the first kick of his career, Araiza showed why his nickname in college was 'Punt God.' With less than a minute left to play in the first half, the Bills were facing a fourth-and-4 from their own 18-yard line so they sent out Araiza for his first punt of the night and the rookie responded by bashing an 82-yard punt that traveled more than 75 yards in the air.
If you're wondering what an 82-yard punt looks like, you can see the kick below.
What a leg! @matt_araiza just sent this punt 82 yards. 😱— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
📺: #INDvsBUF on @NFLNetwork (or check your local listings)
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/Dz9p0kOaUQ pic.twitter.com/bcYFXiHwbE
To put into perspective how impressive this kick was, just consider this: Since 2015, there's only been one punt of 80 or more yards in the regular season and that came last yer when Corey Bojorquez hit one for the Packers.
Araiza earned the nickname 'Punt God' in college because of his ability to regularly get off booming kicks. Not only did he lead the nation in punting average with an FBS-record 51.4 yards per punt last season, but he also had six punts of at least 70 yards in 2021, which was the most in the country. To put that in perspective, there were only six punts of 70 or more yards in the entire NFL last season. Araiza also boomed an 86-yard punt in 2021, which was the longest in college football.
Bills get the Punt God in the SIXTH ROUND.— John Breech (@johnbreech) April 30, 2022
Matt Araiza had two punts of more than 80 yards last season, including an 86-yarder that was the longest punt in college football.
He might be able to punt a football from San Diego to Buffalo. #Bills #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/EA1iEWkdyA
Bills coach Sean McDermott was thrilled to see his rookie punter come through for the team in Buffalo's 27-24 win over the Colts.
"Being able to flip the field like that was huge," McDermott said of Araiza's 82-yard bomb. "I thought he was pretty consistent throughout the night with what he did."
Although the punt was impressive, it arguably wasn't the biggest play of the night for Araiza and that's because he was the holder for Tyler Bass' game-winning field goal as time expired. One of the biggest questions about Araiza heading into the draft was whether he could hold. During his college career, he never had to hold because he was also the placekicker at San Diego State.
With the game on the line, Bass was impressed with how Araiza handled the pressure.
"I think he did great," Bass said of the rookie punter's ability to hold, via the team's official website. "I think him and I both agree, we still have growing to do. But I think for the first time getting out there, he handled himself really well. He was very calm, collected and I trust him 100%."
The 46-yard kick was easily the most pressure Araiza has faced in his short holding career.
"That was awesome," Araiza said. "The first game holding, the game winner. Tyler is an awesome kicker, so I think he makes all of us look good. It's awesome to be holding for such a good kicker."
Even though Araiza had a big game, he still hasn't won the punting job in Buffalo. The sixth-round pick would seem to have a leg up in the competition, but to win the job, he's going to have to beat out Matt Haack. The veteran had one punt for 38 yards on Thursday night that pinned that Colts on their own 12-yard line.