Martin’s record day overshadowed by Lions’ drama

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Sam Martin punts to the Colts during the second half Sunday.

In a high-scoring, come-from-behind victory, no one really pays attention to the punter, but Sam Martin’s performance merits some attention after his record-setting showing in the Detroit Lions’ 39-35 season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts.

In his fourth year out of Appalachian State, Martin had one of the finest punting performances in NFL history. Punting just four times, he averaged 58.8 yards per boot, with a net average of 55.5 yards. That’s nine yards better than the second-best punter through Sunday’s games, Carolina’s Andy Lee.

“He flipped the field for us once,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He made it tough on them, all the way across the board, with (Johnson) Bademosi on the outside, (Don) Carey on the outside. (Special teams coordinator) Joe Marciano does a nice job of getting those guys doing what they’re supposed to do, and Sam just had one of those great days.

The gross and net punting averages are both team records and Martin’s 55.5-yard net is tied for second-best mark in NFL history since the league began tracking the stat 40 years ago.

Lions crafted winning drive with careful prep work

It was a big weekend for Martin, beyond just the game. On Friday, he signed a four-year extension with the Lions. The deal, worth a reported $13.6 million, makes him the third-highest paid player at his position, by average annual salary.

A fifth-round draft pick in 2013, Martin has shown steady improvement during his three-plus seasons in Detroit. He finished fourth in the NFL last season with a 42.0-yard net average. He also serves as the Lions’ holder and kickoff specialist.