Special teams disaster despite win

The Oakland Raiders pulled out a win over the Seattle Seahawks despite a special teams performance that resembled the Keystone Cops.

A single play kept the unit from being an abject failure. In that play Stevie Brown plucked the ball out of the air after it hit the returner’s facemask to set up the Raiders’ final score of the first quarter.

 

Now that the one significant positive from special teams play has been covered, time to cue the Benny Hill music.

In the first quarter, the kickoff coverage team allowed a 54 yard kickoff return to set the Seahawks up at the Raiders 31 yardline. The Seahawks only picked up six yards, but their field position gave them a field goal for their first score of the game.

In the third quarter Yamon Figurs muffed a punt, recovering it himself for a 13 yard loss. To add to the epic nature of the mistakes, Joe Porter was flagged for an illegal block backing up the Raiders to their own 4. The offense was able to overcome this setback and drive 96 yards for a touchdown. However, there is no excuse for that type of special teams play. More often than that a loss of field position sets up the opposition well.

The coup de grace of special teams woes came in the 4th quarter. Swayze Waters had hit a field goal to put them up by 11 early in the fourth quarter, and they allowed Louis Rankin to burst through the middle and give the Seahawks an easy eight points to make it a field goal day.

Overall the Raiders allowed 240 yards on six kickoff returns. This is an astounding 4O yards per kickoff. That number is skewed upwards by the Rankin touchdown. Discounting the touchdown it is five returns for 141 which is still 28.2 yards per return, which is an abysmal number no matter how it is sliced.

Special teams have been a problem for the Raiders since John Fassel took over for Brian Schneider as special teams coordinator. It is an area they need to continue maintain focus as the season approaches. Kick coverage breakdowns can easily be the difference between a win and a loss.

About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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