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Jon Ryan is Seattle's unsung hero

LANDOVER, Md. -- Everyone can see how much quarterback Russell Wilson means to the success of the Seahawks, but the unsung hero on the team this season is punter Jon Ryan.

Ryan’s punting skills kept the Washington Redskins pinned back near their own goal line most of the second half. He had three consecutive punts in the third quarter that caused Washington to start inside its 10-yard line, including one punt that was downed at the 1 by Jermaine Kearse.

“You can’t say enough about those guys,’’ Ryan said of the punt coverage team. “The gunners were down there so quick it gave me the confidence to put it the ball down inside the 10 and not worry about a touchback.”

Five of Ryan’s six punts Monday night were downed inside the 20, yet he still averaged 43.3 yards per boot.

But the play most people will remember about Ryan Monday wasn’t a punt. It was a fake field goal.

Ryan is the holder on Steven Hauschka’s kicks, but on a fourth-and-1 at the Washington 32 in the fourth quarter, Ryan took the snap and ran up the middle for 5 yards.

“I think it was the perfect opportunity there,” Ryan said, “especially when [the officials] had the measurement going on. You couldn’t really see us there talking like you do sometimes before a fake. It was the perfect storm and a ballsy call.”

Ryan, by the way, isn’t a little guy. The 32-year-old Canadian is 6-foot, 215 pounds and looks like he just won a body-building competition.

“I played wide receiver for four years in college at Regina [Saskatchewan],” Ryan said. “I had quite a few touchdowns in college.”

One TD was a 109-yard reception his sophomore year, but it’s been a while since he made a big play on offense.

“That was my first first down since ’07,” he said. “It doesn’t happen often.”

Ryan’s punting is making good things happen for the Seahawks. He’s averaging 46.7 yards a punt, with a net average of 42.2. Twelve of his 18 punts have been downed inside the 20, and only three have been returned, tied for the best percentage in the NFL.