Special-teams failures — including rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore fumbling a punt inside his own five-yard line and an incomplete pass on a fake field goal — allowed the Colts to stay in the game and secure an upset win.
Chiefs assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Dave Toub spoke about Sunday’s unfortunate events before Thursday’s practice. The longtime assistant to Kansas City head coach Andy Reid started by saying he doesn’t anticipate a quick decision to replace Moore as the punt returner.
“Skyy is a guy that I really believe will be a good punt returner,” Toub predicted. “We’re sticking with Skyy. We like Skyy. You know he finished with a 12-yard return. He wants to do it. He’s not hiding from it. I mean he wants to be the guy.
“So he made a mistake. Mistakes happen with young players. Coach sticks with guys; I stick with guys. If they make mistakes? We’re coaches. We’ve got to get them better. That’s our job.”
Toub is not concerned with Moore’s confidence going forward because of how he responded to later punt-return opportunities.
“The fact that he was right there every time they were getting ready to punt — [and] he was ready to go back in — that tells me a lot,” Toub explained. “Then he was able to catch that last one and get 12 yards. And then practice was good all week. We have confidence in him. He’s a young player that’s going to get better and better.”
According to Toub, Sunday presented an unexpected new return game challenge for Moore — which contributed to the muffed punt.
“It was a left-footed punter in a live situation,” noted the coach. “We don’t have a left-footed punter that we practice against. I’m not trying to make excuses for him. But it was a bad ball read, and it turned away from him late.”
Then there was the other big failure. Early in the fourth quarter — with the Chiefs clinging to a four-point lead — the Chiefs lined up for a 41-yard field goal. Punter Tommy Townsend took the snap and then tolled left, attempting a short pass to tight end Noah Gray. The pass fell incomplete, turning the ball over to the Colts at their own 24.
Toub acknowledged that the skills of replacement kicker Matt Ammendola — who had already missed an extra point attempt — played a role in the decision. But he reiterated that aside from Ammendola’s situation, he still liked the call.
“It had a little bit to do with that,” he confirmed, “but not a lot. But the situation — where the ball was on the hash, what kind of look we had? We felt like there was something we could get.”
The decision to call a fake punt or kick is not one that the coaching staff takes lightly.
“There’s a lot of study that goes into fakes,” he declared. “I don’t run fakes every game. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it — [and] a lot of tape watched. We felt like we could get it. And if [Gray] would have gotten the ball earlier, he might have had a shot. If the ball would have came right out of Tommy’s hand, we might have had it.
“I need to do a better job of coaching the [offensive] line that they don’t go downfield. That was a detail that was my fault — [and] calling it was my fault; I’ll take full responsibility for both of those.
“But when we call one, there’s a lot of study involved. It’s not just something that gets called for the situation of the game.”
While admitting his squad’s shortcomings on the play, Toub gave credit to Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke for quickly recognizing it.
“58 – he was on point,” the coach recalled. “He noticed it right away and kind of moved outside. So he got better leverage. That’s why Tommy didn’t throw the ball right away. He felt like it was too tight to throw it. In practice, it wasn’t as tight. It was something that Tommy didn’t see — so he hesitated for a second. He’s not a quarterback, but he’s pretty darn good for a punter. Those are details that are my responsibility that we have to cover. We just didn’t practice that situation.”
As frustrating as Sunday was, Toub anticipates that his unit’s sour performance will be an outlier — rather than a trend.
“It snowballs — but they’re unrelated,” he said of the errors in every phase of his unit on Sunday. “It was a rare game. It was something that obviously we don’t want to have happen.
“Usually [after] a bad play, you can follow it up with some good plays. We’ve done that before in the playoffs: we had two bad plays, [then] we came back and made three great plays. That’s what we were expecting.
“[Here’s] the thing about our guys: there’s a lot of pride in that room. I know they’re going to respond the right way.”