Through My Eyes: Riley Dixon explains the fake punt vs. the Titans

Since I joined the Broncos, the organization has relied on me in some pretty big moments even though I’m just a rookie.  

Throughout OTAs and training camp, I battled to earn a spot on the roster, ultimately beating out a veteran punter to get the starting job. I’ve always had the mindset that I wanted to come here, work hard and do my job the best that I can. I never really thought about the type of success I could have or would have, but here I am with the best net punting average so far for a rookie in NFL history.

Last week vs. the Titans, the Broncos trusted me with yet another big responsibility. Late in the third quarter when we were down by 13 points, I came in to punt after a three-and-out from our offense.

Usually when I punt, I stand back from the rest of the guys and direct traffic a little bit. Tell them, “Hey, go this way” or “Let’s punt that way.”

This time, I heard the fake punt play call being echoed around so I ran over to where the rest of the guys were and asked, “Wait … what’s the call?”

Once I confirmed the play call was the fake punt, there was still a lot going through my mind. 

We had had this play called once before this season, but we checked out of it. So when we were all lined up I heard Justin Simmons talking around. I considered the idea that we might check out of it again. I started thinking to myself, “Wait, am I supposed to punt it?”

But that was just me overthinking the play, I knew what I was supposed to do. The ball was snapped and I had a wide-open throw to Cody Latimer. I was so relieved when he caught it and I realized the play was a success. I mean the throw was wide open so if you throw that one in the dirt, you look pretty dumb.

I actually wasn’t as nervous as one might think during the actual play. It’s one of those things where once the play is called and everyone lines up, you don’t really think about it anymore. You just let the adrenaline take over and do what you’ve practiced.

It was easily one of the best moments from my rookie season so far, right up there with my 68-yard punt against the San Diego Chargers when we were backed up against our own end zone. 

These two moments along with the many others from my first NFL season represent what I wanted to do in my first year with the team. There’s no better feeling than putting our team in a position to succeed, helping them get out of a hole or making an opposing offense go 95 yards against our defense, which is really hard to do.

We’ve got an incredibly tough final stretch coming up here, but I’m ready. You can never settle in this league. I’m always learning and always trying to get better. We are all trying to finish strong — that’s everybody’s goal. I’m going to contribute in any way I can — that’s my goal.

I’ve never played against the Patriots, obviously, and it’s going to be a big game for us. But for me, nothing really changes.

I’ll do what I do every game: Do my job and punt well.

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