While the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens 34-20 on Monday, it was not a good night for the Kansas City special teams units.
After taking a 13-3 lead in the second quarter, the team gave up its first kick-return touchdown since special teams coordinator Dave Toub arrived in 2013. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Toub acknowledged that with their kicker Harrison Butker, the Chiefs could simply drill the ball through the end zone for a touchback every time — but sometimes, they’d rather not.
“We were kicking to those guys because [Devin Duvernay] was a rookie returner,” said Toub. “We didn’t know a lot about him. In the couple of games that they had, he was kind of shuffling his feet; we thought we could get him. But this game humbles you. It humbles you as a coach and it humbles you as a player. The kid came out and made a nice play. They did a nice job blocking — and they got us. “
Toub said that the team the Chiefs were playing had something to do with it, too.
“Baltimore, they get a lot of credit,” he noted. “They’re a good special teams unit. They did a great job blocking us. The kid — the rookie — did a nice job with his top-end speed. [He] got up, changed some angles and made a nice play. This is pro football. Guys are going to make plays.
Toub also sought to push back against the idea that second-year running back Darwin Thompson — who was the Chiefs player in the best position to stop Duvernay but was blocked out of the play — deserved all the blame for the touchdown.
“If you look at that return, there were 11 guys to blame — even the kicker,” said Toub. “Everybody was to blame. Any time you get a return for a touchdown against you, there’s a lot of blame to go around. Darwin just happened to be the last man standing right there at the end. There were a lot of guys that could have made that play. We went over it — actually today — and talked about what each guy could have done different to change the outcome.”
That wasn’t the only special teams problem on Monday night. Butker missed an extra point in the first quarter — and then missed a 42-yard field goal with seconds remaining before the half. But Toub said he — and the team — aren’t panicking about it.
“There’s not a lot to fix,” he said. “I think he just came into the game really pumped up for the game — no matter what. Any time he goes against [Ravens placekicker] Justin Tucker, he wants to do so well.
“He put a little too much pressure on it; he was all fired up. The kick that he missed — the first extra point — he kind of pulled it to the left a little bit. Then he came back and he made three extra points. I think it was — and then the very next field goal: same thing. I think it was more of a mental thing than anything. We talked about it. He’s going to be fine. We kicked today — and he’s going to be all right.”