Arizona Cardinals’ Justin Bethel makes his mark on the NFL with blocked field goals
Nov 4, 2014, 4:16 AM | Updated: 4:16 am
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel is first to do many things.
He was the first Presbyterian College player to be drafted in the NFL since 1969. He was the first Presbyterian College player to make a Pro Bowl. And he is often first to get his hands on a kicked ball.
Bethel blocked nine kicks in college (although he claims he got his hands on more), a Big South career record, and he continues to wreck havoc on kickers in the NFL.
“I’ve been doing it since high school so it kind of comes to me second nature,” Bethel told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday.
No. 28’s blocked field goal to end the first half of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys kept the Cardinals’ lead at four points and swung the momentum back in Arizona’s favor.
“…You’re thinking they’re going to make it a one-point game, now it’s a four-point game and (they) have to score (a touchdown) to take the lead,” Bethel said.
The Cardinals eventually won the game 28-17.
Bethel felt he should have blocked Dallas’ first kick, but he slipped coming around the corner.
“I kind of knew if I got another chance that I was going to (block) it,” Bethel said. “Usually I can tell after the first one or two if I’m going to be able to get there or not.”
The third year defensive back has three blocked field goals in his young NFL career. Two of them came last season as Bethel earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. He also had 21 special teams tackles, four punts downed inside the 10-yard line and recovered a muffed kickoff that season.
Special teams is where Bethel has made his living, playing bigger than his 6-foot, 190-pound frame.
“I knew, especially coming from a small school, the biggest thing that helps you get on a team is special teams,” Bethel said.
Despite being a starter on defense, Bethel made an effort to play special teams all four years of college.
The Cardinals selected Bethel in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2012 draft partially due to his special team strengths.
“I came in looking to make an impact on the team (through special teams) — I think it really worked out for me,” Bethel said.