Today I read an article which summarized some of the records broken during the Chief's playoff game. One of them struck me funny:
Quintin Demps had seven kickoff returns for 187 yards (26.7 yards avg). The seven returns tied a previous Chief's record, and the 187 yards were 2nd in playoff history. This sounded impressive, but it didn't feel right. As I read the sentence, I had a flashback to game day. My brother-in-law (a Pats fan) was at my house watching the game. During one of Demps' later kickoff returns I heard him laugh, so I looked over at him. Demps had caught the kickoff return deep within the endzone and my brother-in-law was flabbergasted that Demps was fielding it. He surely ought to be kneeling down, he wondered. I guess I wasn't at all phased by it because I think I had seen a lot of that during the year, often with positive results. But maybe there *WAS* something odd about it?
After reading that story today, I decided to check the play-by-play via my NFL Mobile iPhone app. The specifics are quite interesting (note: if a player, for example, catches the ball 7 yards deep inside the endzone and runs it back to the 17 yard line, it counts as a 27 yard return):
#1: Demps: -5 to 18 (23 yards) / Net result: -2 yards (compared to just downing it in the end-zone and letting the offense start at the 20 yard line)
#2: Demps: -8 to 26 (34 yards) / Net result: +6 yards
#3: Demps: -9 to 19 (28 yards) / Net result: -1 yards
#4: Demps: -6 to 22 (28 yards) / Net result: +2 yards
#5: Demps: -4 to 20 (24 yards) / Net result: 0 yards
#6: Demps: -6 to 19 (25 yards) / Net result: -1 yards
#7: Demps: -8 to 17 (25 yards) / Net result: -3 yards
#8: Demps: -8 - touchback / Net result: 0 yards
Total yards returned: 187 yards. Net result: just +1 yard beyond the 20 yard line.
Here's the funny thing. In the process of researching this, I thought, "Wow, Demps' return game wasn't very good, despite all of those yards he racked up for the record books." And that's true. Demps never broke one off for a huge return.
We can't really point at Demps and blame him for any ill-advised kickoff returns. While it could be argued that he *SHOULD* have kneeled down on some of these, it's not like he really hurt the offense on any of them (the worst return resulted in the offense starting at the 17 yard line - just 3 yards shorter than they would have started had Demps kneeled that one down).
After reviewing all of these plays, the real surprise for me was the fact that after attempting to return so many arguably ill-advised returns (one that was 9 yards deep within the endzone, two that were 8 yards within the endzone), he decided (or was told to) not return that very last one that was 8 yards deep within the endzone. Instead, he kneeled that one down. Probably the right call. But it leaves us with one more thing to wonder about. What *IF* he had tried to be a playmaker there and was able to run it out for a big gain?
[Note: This is my first FanPost.]