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Dave Toub: Tommy Townsend, Justin Watson made adjustments on fake punt

On Thursday, Kanas City’s special teams coordinator discussed a number of situations from recent games.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to wasting a phenomenal defensive performance during Monday’s 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs failed to capitalize on its top special teams moment of the season.

Late in the first half, the Chiefs were down two scores after giving up a pair of defensive touchdowns. Facing a fourth-and-5 from his own 48-yard line, Kansas City punter Tommy Townsend executed a perfect 11-yard pass to Justin Watson to move the chains.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Dave Toub said that the Raiders defended it well.

“Those guys executed it unbelievably,” revealed Toub, “because [the Raiders] kind of knew it was coming. They defended it. The corner dropped back — they defended the five-yard spot — but [Watson] pressed it and made the play work. Tommy adjusted, too.

“Both of those guys deserve a lot of credit for making the play work with the defense that they showed us.”

According to Toub, Townsend and Watson had to change a play that they had practiced many times.

“It was an adjustment,” said Toub. “It was amazing because the route [was] not what we practiced. [Watson] had to run a different route because of the way the guy was playing him. He had to throw a deeper route. And Tommy? He just threw it in there perfectly away from the cover guy.

“It’s his instincts — [his] football instincts. He’s got it. Some people can do it; some people can’t. Tommy can adjust — and he’s got great touch on the ball on deep throws. It’s pretty good.”

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Unfortunately, extending the drive didn’t help: placekicker Harrison Butker missed a 36-yard field goal that would have put the Chiefs within a touchdown of the lead at halftime. After being perfect through the team’s first 14 games, Butker has now missed a field goal in each of Kansas City’s last two games. Still, Toub has little concern about Butker’s reliability.

“It’s kind of uncharacteristic for him,” observed Toub. “He kind of pulled the second one. The first one was a push. It’s a two-way miss on a short kick. He’s going to get that ironed out. It’s nothing I’m hitting the panic button over, for sure. He’s so good in practice.”

During the Chiefs’ 27-17 win over the New England Patriots in Week 15, a report surfaced that the kicking balls were underinflated in the first half. Butker later declined to blame air pressure on missing a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter. Toub agrees.

“It’s no big deal,” he declared. “Both teams played with the same balls. It doesn’t matter. It’s really a non-issue — and obviously, it happened a couple of weeks ago.”

But Toub did reveal how he was made aware of the situation.

“We don’t have the balls,” he explained. “The referees take care of that. I came out at halftime — and [the official] told me, ‘Dave, I just want you to know that every ball was deflated to 11 pounds.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ [He said], ‘Now we’ve got them all correct.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ That was it. That was all I heard.”

But even though Toub thought it wasn’t a big deal, he said there was “no excuse” for the officials’ mistake.

Meanwhile — after returning from the team’s Reserve/Injured list a month ago — wide receiver Richie James appears to have settled in as the Chiefs’ primary punt and kickoff returner. Toub is happy with what he the veteran is doing.

“He’s doing a solid job,” Toub said of James. “He’s fielding the ball. He’s making good decisions — and he’s getting better and better each week. He’s getting closer and closer. The guys are blocking it up pretty good for him. I’m happy with where he’s at right now, going to where we are here at the end of the season.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On Thursday, Toub also spoke about legendary NFL kick returner Devin Hester, who has been named as one of 14 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2024 class. His career overlapped with Toubs’s when both were with the Chicago Bears from 2006 to 2012.

“He changed the game,” the coach said of Hester. “Because now, the gunners are better. The punters are better. Everybody’s better because of what Devin Hester did. Everybody has a returner now.

“He really brought special teams to another level: him as one single player — as a returner.”

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