KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Special teams coordinator Dave Toub called the shot, sort of. Toub predicted last week that Kansas City Chiefs rookie De'Anthony Thomas would bust a long punt return when the outside blockers, or jammers, did a better job in handling the opposition’s outside coverage players.
It happened in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Marcus Cooper and Kelcie McCray on one side and Kurt Coleman and Jamell Fleming on the other took care of Oakland’s gunners.
That left Thomas with room after catching the punt. Those blocks, plus Thomas’ speed, were the key components in the 81-yard touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
That sort of play is essential for the Chiefs(8-6) as they face a crucial game this weekend against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are one of the league’s highest-scoring teams, and the Chiefs could have trouble keeping up without getting some help in the kicking game.
It’s a good sign for the Chiefs that they were able to take advantage against Oakland. Thomas has plenty of ability as a return specialist but this season mostly displayed errors in judgment instead. He fielded some punts when he should have let them go and let others go when he should have fielded them.
Maybe Thomas and his blockers are putting everything together.
“I’ve been learning, I’ve been learning the whole season,’’ Thomas said. “It’s to the point where I’m starting to get a feel of it. I’m just excited to be back there and have an opportunity to catch punts for this team and just set the tone. I want to go out there, make plays and get our team going.”