The month of November was good for the Kansas City Chiefs.
They started the month holding last place in the AFC West. But after stringing together four straight wins — while the rest of the AFC West floundered — they now find themselves a full game ahead in the division standings before December football gets underway.
The final piece of recognition for November’s performance was the crowning of punter Tommy Townsend as the AFC Special Teams player of the month for November — the first punter in Chiefs history to win the honor.
“That’s another incredible honor,” Townsend beamed on Friday. “I mean, obviously, there’s so many greats here — and being a first to [do] anything is really cool.”
The second-year player from the University of Florida has had his struggles. Even with the immense amount of talent he possesses, Townsend had shown issues with consistency. In Super Bowl LV, Townsend shanked two punts in the first half — each for less than 30 yards — with the latter from deep in his own end zone, giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers great field position to extend their lead to two scores.
“It was probably his low point in his career — that one play,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub pointed out on Thursday. “He had to live with that the whole offseason — and start the year off with that on his mind.”
Living with consecutive shanked punts under the brightest of lights could tear down any young player. But the work Townsend has put in hasn’t been overlooked by the coaching staff — especially head coach Andy Reid.
“He’s working on the consistency that it takes to do it in this league,” noted Reid on Friday. “Nobody works harder. He and [Harrison Butker] are relentless working with one another. It’s paid off for him this past month. Now he has challenges that he keeps going. He’s got to keep pounding here. Consistency is a huge thing for a punter in this league.”
“It’s just such an incredible feeling just to see all my hard work really paying off,” said Townsend. “A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get the player of the week against the Packers and have a really good game then. But yeah... [it’s] just been a lot of work going into it the past five, six weeks. And it’s awesome to see it pay off.”
For Toub, Townsend’s recent performance has been remarkable.
“When you go back and you look at the month that he had, it’s by far the best performance by a punter that I’ve ever had as a coach,” he said proudly. “It was really good numbers. It was good to see him do [it] week after week. He had a really good week. And then he followed up with three more weeks.”
Townsend experienced the worst game of his career and then rebounded to be honored as one of the best special-teams players in the league — an award he was able to share with his family as he walked into the team facility on Thursday morning.
“I actually saw it when I was on my way into the building in the morning,” he recalled. “I didn’t see any social media notifications or whatever, but my brother sent me — my oldest brother, Clay — he sent one of the pictures of a screenshot of it to our family group text. As soon as I saw it, I was so happy! I was ecstatic. That’s obviously one of the top awards that you can get during the season.”
“He found out before me,” smiled Toub. “I found out early this morning before our meeting, and when I saw him, he had a big smile on his face — so he knew. And I gave him the fist bump.”