The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium roared loudly as the ball bounced high off the turf and settled at the 2-yard line Sunday. For a split second, it seemed the Chiefs' Pro Bowl punter, Dustin Colquitt, had asserted his brilliance once again.
By TEREZ PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Colquitt's booming 65-yard punt, which came with 6 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs leading 17-13, stood to back the increasingly desperate Cowboys to their goal line. However, backup cornerback Marcus Cooper was whistled for illegal touching ― he downed the ball after stepping out of bounds ― which allowed the Cowboys to start their drive at their own 20.
Dallas eventually kicked a field goal, cutting the deficit to one, and while the Chiefs emerged victorious ― no harm, no foul ― this is an example of the kind of day the special teams had Sunday.
In addition to that penalty, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop had a 57-yard field goal blocked in the first half, while running back Knile Davis almost fumbled away the lead later in the fourth quarter, when he muffed a kickoff with three minutes, 55 seconds left and the Chiefs leading 17-16.
“I didn't catch it but I'm glad I got the ball back,” Davis said with a sense of relief. “It could have been bad if wouldn't have got the ball so I look at it like that. But next time, I'm gonna catch it.”
Davis had two impressive kickoff returns in the preseason but has also struggled to catch the ball consistently, which is what likely caused special teams coordinator Dave Toub to recently say he would try to use Davis in optimal situations, one where the Chiefs have a lead and he's been warmed up, perhaps.
Davis didn't receive a carry Sunday, but was nevertheless back there to return a kick with his team in a tenuous spot. Fortunately for the Chiefs, he recovered it ― and they still had Colquitt.
After the Chiefs milked nearly 3 1/2 minutes off the clock, they were forced to punt with about 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Colquitt trotted out and proceeded to drill a dead-eye, 42-yard punt that bounced inside the 10-yard line and was downed at Dallas' 4-yard line.
“That's a bad boy, man,” Davis said. “That's a bad boy. He can kick that ball.”
It was the fifth of Colquitt's seven punts that landed inside the 20-yard line Sunday ― he already has 10 of those after racking up 45 last season, the second-most in the league ― and it would have been his second inside the 5-yard line, had his earlier masterpiece stood.
Surprisingly, however, the one that was wiped out didn't bother Colquitt much. He's just glad Dallas' return man, receiver Dwayne Harris ― the reigning NFC special teams player of the week ― didn't touch the ball.
“It might have been a touchback, I get that part,” Colquitt said. “But I'd rather it be that than him getting the ball.”
Harris, by the way, had a modest day. In addition to his one kickoff return for 35 yards, he only had one punt return for 22 yards, again cementing that on a deal filled with some special teams lows, Toub's units had some highs, too.
“Harris is a primetime return guy,” Colquitt said. “He's dangerous. He's going to have a good year this year. We talked about kind of eliminating that threat and letting our offense and defense go at it. That's what we tried to do as a punt team today. That's it.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.