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Scifres (6-2, 221) is a ten-year punter is his tenth year with the Chargers.
Mike Scifres (SIGH-fres) had quite a year in 2011. Just days before the regular season opener, the Chargers signed him to a five-year contract extension that will keep him as the team’s punter through the 2016 season. When Scifres put pen to paper though, little did he realize that within a few days, he’d not only be called upon to handle punts, but also kickoffs, field goals and point after tries after Nate Kaeding suffered a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff of the season against Minnesota. Scifres, the team’s backup kicker, coolly responded by nailing a game-tying 40-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, en route to a 24-17 victory over the Vikings. It was his first made field goal in a live game since his sophomore season at Western Illinois when he kicked a 56-yard game-winner in overtime against Northern Iowa for a conference title.
Beyond his heroics in Week 1, Scifres posted some eye-popping numbers in 2011. He averaged a career-high 47.5 yards per punt and fell just three attempts shy of qualifying for the team’s single-season record (min. 50). Scifres punted 47 times in ’11 and finished the year ranked sixth in the NFL in gross punting average. He had only two touchbacks in 2011, tying his career low.
The franchise’s leader for career punting average (44.8), Scifres is a member of the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and a six-time Pro Bowl alternate (2004-09).
As he enters the 2012 season, Scifres is only eight punts shy of 500 for his career. Only 86 players in NFL history have punted more than 500 times. A look at what Scifres has done with his first 492 punts shows some incredible statistics. Only 204 of his punts have been returned and among the group with more than 500 career punts (since 1970), the fewest number of returns a punter has allowed is 207 by Ken Walter, who punted for Carolina, New England and Seattle from 1997-06. Similarly, Scifres’ 45 career touchbacks would be the fifth-fewest among punters for whom complete career data is available, showing just how valuable a weapon he has been for the Chargers.
Scifres credits his career success to a workout regimen that includes weightlifting and Pilates.
It was almost a fluke that Scifres ended up with the Chargers. It happened on a recommendation from Kyle Smith, the son of Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith. As a freshman at Youngstown State, Smith had returned punts against Scifres, who played for Missouri Valley Conference foe, Western Illinois. Less than a year after fielding the call from Kyle, and despite having Pro Bowl punter Darren Bennett on the roster, Smith drafted Scifres in the fifth round in 2003.
Scifres cemented his resume as one of the NFL’s top punters during an outstanding 2008 season when he set a team record and ranked third in the league with a 40.9-yard net punting average. He allowed zero or negative punt return yards in seven games. He had only five touchbacks in 51 punts (9.8%) for the entire season and landed 19 those of 51 attempts inside the 20. Among players with 40-or-more punts, only two others allowed fewer than Scifres’ 146 return yards, and only five teams had more than 15 punt return yards against the Chargers all season.
Scifres’ outstanding season carried into the playoffs where he enjoyed a record-breaking night in the Chargers’ AFC Wild Card Playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. He landed all six of his punts inside the 20, the highest number and percentage of punts ever landed inside the 20 during a playoff game. He also averaged a playoff-record 51.7 net yards per punt as the Colts managed just six punt return yards for the game. The Colts were forced to start drives at their own 10, 19, 3, 7, 9 and 1-yard lines following punts. Scifres’ last punt may have been his best, a kick that rolled out of bounds at the 1-yard line, setting the stage for the Chargers’ late fourth-quarter comeback.
Scifres also experienced postseason success against Indianapolis in 2007 when he helped send the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game with a dominating performance in the Divisional Playoffs at the RCA Dome. Scifres set a team postseason record by averaging 59.0 yards per punt. He saved his best for last again, hitting a postseason team-record 66-yarder with the Bolts backed up at their own 14-yard line and only 1:42 left in the fourth quarter. Kicking from his own goal line, the Colts fielded Scifres’ punt at their own 20. That punt lit a fire on the Chargers’ sideline and the defense ended the Colts’ season on downs four plays later, sending the Chargers on to the title game.
Scifres went to high school in Destrehan, La. One of his prep teammates was Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, who funny enough was the team’s punter at the time. Because of Reed’s strong leg, Scifres was initially relegated to kickoffs, field goals and extra points. Few would’ve guessed that Scifres would turn out to be such a special player. Scifres and Reed have remained friends.
Mike and his wife, Stacie, are parents to twin daughters Berkeley and Bristyn.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Fifth-round pick (149), April 27, 2003…signed, July 19…signed four-year contract extension through 2011, Nov. 3, 2005.
2011: Took over for an injured Nate Kaeding in Week 1 against Minnesota and scored his first-career NFL points, including a game-tying 40-yard field goal with 10:05 remaining in the fourth quarter...it tied the game at 17-17...Scifres’ last made field goal in a live game (college or pro) was a 56-yard game-winner as time expired to give Western Illinois a 44-41 win over Northern Iowa in 2000 for a conference title...Scifres was also good on all three point-after attempts...Scifres also handled kickoffs and had two touchbacks...Kaeding suffered season-ending torn ligaments in his left knee on on the game’s opening kickoff...Mike Scifres had his first touchback of the season Week 10 against Oakland, ending a string of 23-straight punts to start the season without one...the punt which ended the string was a 71-yarder that tied his career long...Scifres helped the Chargers hold their 16-0 lead at half in Week 14 against Buffalo by knocking consecutive punts out of bounds at the Bills’ 12 and five-yard line late in the second quarter.
2010: Punt block in second quarter Sept. 19 vs. Jacksonville ...two punts blocked Oct. 10 at Oakland, one for safety and another for touchdown...averaged season-best 59.5 on six punts and handled kickoffs for injured Nate Kaeding Oct. 17 at St. Louis...punt blocked for safety Oct. 31 vs. Tennessee ...deflected punt in early first quarter led to touchdown Nov. 7 at Houston...completed 28-yard pass to Mike Tolbert on fake punt in first quarter Nov. 22 vs. Denver.
2009: Pro Bowl third-alternate…USA Today All-Joe…Game Ball after best-ever game at KC Oct. 25...49.0 average on four punts, forcing three FCs and allowing only one PR for 44.8 net...Game Ball after Dec. 13 win at DAL...buried consecutive punts at four and one during pivotal 3Q.
2008: Pro Bowl first-alternate…USA Today All-Joe…season-long 65-yarder Sept. 28 at OAK…50.5 net Oct. 5 at MIA was career-high in games with multiple punts...only -1 PR yards Nov. 9 vs. KC for higher net (44.3) than gross (44.0)… SI.com Special Teams POW after team postseason and NFL Playoff record six I-20 in Jan. 5 Wild Card vs. IND…52.7 average was third-highestin game in team playoff history and 51.7-net was NFL postseason record (min. 5 att.)…set stage for late 4Q comeback by having final punt (52 yards) roll OB at one… first-ever NFL punt returned for TD in Jan. 11 AFC Divisional Playoff game at PIT.
2007: USA Today All-Joe...Pro Bowl first-alternate…first-career block by DEN’s Tony Scheffler Oct. 7…AFC Special Teams POW after 50.2 net vs. HOU Oct. 28…5-of-5 I-20 vs. Texans to run streak of consecutive I-20 to nine…season-long 70-yarder vs. BAL Nov. 25…early 4Q Dec. 9 vs. TEN, 39-yarder downed at one...led to three-and-out by defense and TD by offense…in OT, 51-yarder downed at two…it too was followed by three-and-out and GW TD drive…vs. DEN Dec. 24 on MNF, handled KOs for Nate Kaeding (injury)…Jan. 13 Divisional Playoffs at IND, new team postseason record 59.0 ypp…hit postseason team-record 66-yarder from own 14-with 1:42 left in 4Q…no PR yards allowed in AFC Championship Game at NE.
2006: Pro Bowl first-alternate…season-long 71-yarder, Oct. 1 at BAL…last punt, in 4Q Dec. 3 at BUF went for TB for only second TB of season (Oct. 1 at Baltimore)...ended streak of 38 consecutive without TB…career-high 10 punts in rainy Dec. 24 game at SEA…tied team playoff record with seven punts in Divisional Playoffs vs. NE...five I-20 tied John Kidd’s then team playoff record.
2005: Pro Bowl second-alternate…season-high 57.5 ypp vs. NYJ Nov. 6…season-long 71-yarder in ESPN SNF game vs. OAK Dec. 4.
2004: Pro Bowl first-alternate…firstteam All-Pro by SI and SI.com…Chargers Special Teams POY…one PR for one yard and two FC by All-Pro returner Dante Hall Nov. 28 at KC…Dec. 5 vs. DEN, first TB since Sept. 26 at DEN, ending 36 consecutive punts without…23 of 36 during stretch landed I-20…Chargers Alumni POW after TB game Dec. 12…Jan. 2 vs. KC, threw INT as holder on botched FGA.
2003: Handled KOs Wks 4, 7, 12-14 and 16.
COLLEGE: I-AA All-America as soph and senior …three-time first-team all-conference…only 1-AA punter named finalist for '02 Ray Guy Award…second in nation with 48.0 avg. as senior…National POW four times by Football Gazette and Special Teams POW for Gateway Conference twice as senior…conference and Sports Network POW three times as soph…I-AA Special Teams POW after school and conference-record 89-yard punt vs. SW Missouri in '00…school-record 56-yard FG vs. Northern Iowa as time expired in 44-41 win for ’00 conference title...was first-career FGA…All-Newcomer as redshirt frosh in '99…played at Western Illinois from 1998-02…communications and broadcasting degree.
PERSONAL: Born in Metairie, Louisiana…all-district selection at Destrehan (La.) HS…lettered in football, soccer and baseball.
The San Diego Chargers tied for the top record in the AFC West last year with an 8-8 mark. Relive each memorable win as we break down some of the greatest moments from the 2011 season. First up is the opening day victory vs. Minnesota.