With Dante Hall deep, the Bolts knew they would have their hands full.
Hall had five returns and a long of 37 yards but was limited to just 17.5 yards per return, a testament to how good the Chargers coverage team handled their assignments.
In fact, he was limited to an average of 12 yards on the four other returns he had on the day. And the one opportunity he had to return a punt netted a single yard.
“It’s just a matter of doing the right thing and being in the right place,” head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “We had a spell here five, six weeks ago, where we struggled. Then we bounced back and did a good job. We’re going to have to do it on a more consistent basis then we did the past several weeks, not withstanding yesterday, which was excellent. (Hall) had five returns and averaged 17 yards a kickoff return. We’ll take that any day against Dante Hall. In that, he actually had the one 37-yarder. You can’t take them out, but just on the basis of exploring numbers, our coverage teams did a terrific job in creating field position for us.”
Leading the assault was special teams demon Kassim Osgood. Osgood takes pride in his work on the coverage team and believes it gets the rest of the defense charged up. He never drops his intensity, despite an expanded role in the offense.
“He put on quite a performance in kickoff coverage,” Schottenheimer added. “That was impressive.”
Osgood ended the day with three special teams tackles besides his two receptions.
Oddly enough, it was a player who had been a steady weapon all year that provided the most angst.
Mike Scifres tossed an interception after a snap on a field goal attempt went awry.
“He’s a little embarrassed, I think,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s kind of interesting because I told him, ‘Boy, you have a lot of work to do on your quarterback rating.’ It shows you that you have to be careful on every play, even the little things. What happened was he took his eye off the ball. As a result, he didn’t handle it. Then he over-handled it.”
What exactly were you thinking, Mike?
“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” he answered.
Making it worse, the interception seemed to carry over to his punts. Usually a force, Scifres was pedestrian and got the help of a couple of bounces. His net average actually looked pretty good at the end of the day, a 39-yard average.
That didn’t lesson the anger Scifres had with his performance.
“I was unhappy with the way I punted,” he said. “I set a standard for myself over the year and I didn’t live up to it.”
For the most part, the special teams unit rebounded from some serious woes. With the playoffs just days away, they needed to prove that they had shored up that area of the game.
Minus the Scifres gaffe, a play that doesn’t figure to happen again, the Chargers came out of the Kansas City game with renewed confidence in the third phase of the game.