How about that 54-yard punt return by De’Anthony Thomas during the first quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday? The one where he lost the handle on the ball while running down the sideline, and then gathered it back in and gained another 10 yards?
You know. This one.
DAT’s awareness =— Joseph Hoyt (@JoeJHoyt) September 16, 2018
Check out the big punt return by De’Anthony Thomas. pic.twitter.com/bW1oxpfRuz
The return went all the way to the Steelers 10-yard line and set up the Chiefs first touchdown of the game.
No disrespect to KOIN-TV’s Joe Hoyt here — I thought exactly the same thing he did while watching the game — but it turns out that this wasn’t the result of any special awareness on the part of Thomas.
Instead, this was a carefully-rehearsed trick play that Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub had cooked up to counter any attempt by the Steelers to punt short and/or out of bounds if Tyreek Hill was lined up to receive.
In his opening statement at Monday’s press conference, head coach Andy Reid made a somewhat vague reference to the play, saying that the team had practiced it all week.
But speaking to the media on Thursday, Toub was more specific.
“We were thinking they were going to try to kick away from Tyreek Hill — which they did,” Toub explained. ”They kicked a high, short kick. We had Tyreek fake like it was a deep kick — when it actually was a short kick — and then De’Anthony was standing right there to field it. We were hoping that the coverage would run by him — which they did — and then we were able to get a big return. But you have to have trust and we have trust that those guys will field it and make the right decisions. Then they had the trust in the scheme and it worked. This was a well-executed play by those guys.”
Now that you know this, watch the play again. That’s exactly what happened.
Nonetheless, Toub wasn’t satisfied with his unit’s performance during the first two weeks of the season.
“We’re fortunate right now, but we know it’s a long season. It’s a game-to-game thing. Things change. You kind of know where your weaknesses are, you just don’t want them to get exposed. You try to fix them. There were a lot of mistakes made in [the first] game — a lot of mistakes — more so in the second game than there was in the first game. It just didn’t hurt us. It didn’t show up as a bad play. But hopefully we go back in the film room and we correct it and get it fixed for the next game. But there’s always something. There’s always something to improve on and you never know when something is going to show up.”
Let’s say it once more: you just have to love Uncle Dave.