Week in and week out in the NFL, teams look for any advantage they can possibly gain and this week, the Chiefs are going to need to find any little advantage to help get them over the hump this week against the Baltimore Ravens and that may come from special teams.
Last week, Baltimore had to call on veteran long snapper Kevin Houser to handle their long snapping duties. Despite Cincinnati bringing heat and putting pressure on him, the 11 year vet handled it well through seven punts and two field goal attempts from Billy Cundiff. “Everything was OK,” Houser said. “I don’t think anybody thought it would be perfect the first time around. There are some things we need to work on.”
There is a fascinating story about their normal long snapper Morgan Cox. He played through grade-three ACL and MCL tears in the second quarter of the Ravens’ Week 16 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Peter King of SI.com fills in the details of how Cox finished the game.
Cox let out a scream when he got injured and Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers knew the injury was serious. Cox finished the game and Rogers kept that in mind later in the game. King wrote in his story.
Wrote King: “There’s a fine line here between playing hard and being sympathetic to a wounded competitor, and Rogers did a gallant job straddling it in the second half, Rogers knew Cox was injured; he’d heard him scream in agony after the injury. On an extra point try, after the ball was over the line, Rogers saw Cox falling back awkwardly. He reached over and grabbed Cox’s jersey to prevent him from falling and perhaps hurting the leg further. “Unbelievable,” Cox said. “I felt this hand hold me up and just figured it was one of our guys, but it was Shaun Rogers. I’ll never forget him for that.”
Back to this weekend, this could be an area where the Chiefs gain an advantage over Baltimore. Obviously, with a game under his belt and being an 11-year vet, the practice will help Houser, but the Chiefs are averaging 10.1 yards per return and have only fair caught the ball 9 times in 61 punts, so they’ll get run backs. The downside is that the Chiefs only have one touchdown and that came from Dexter McCluster in week one against San Diego. However, any variance in a snap back to the punter can cause a bad punt, or a good rush up the middle could affect Sam Koch’s kicks. Koch’s 43.2 yards per kick seems to be right in line with the NFL average.
Starting field position is always an advantage. Plus, kicking in the swirling winds of Arrowhead, Ryan Succop give the Chiefs an advantage over Cundiff to begin with. Perhaps some inside pressure and the Chiefs could may be able to get their hands on an attempt.