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Blocked Punt Hurts Scifres, Chargers
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Mike Scifres never saw it coming.
The Chargers exceptional punter was focused solely on booting the football downfield that he never saw Dekoda Watson cut towards the middle and block the ball almost immediately after it left his foot. Adding insult to injury, Tampa Bay’s Adam Heyward picked up the loose ball and returned it 29 yards for the momentum shifting touchdown.
“I still don’t really know what happened,” said Scifres. “I didn’t even see the guy coming. I’m not concentrating on the guys in front of me I’m just focusing on getting the ball out. I didn’t notice it until I was upside down. But it was a huge play. It put points on the board for them and it can’t happen.”
Not only did the score give the Bucs their first lead of the game, Scifres injured his ankle on the play. He lay on the ground for quite a while writhing in pain. It was uncertain if he would return for the rest of the afternoon, but a true gamer, he was back in there the next time the team needed his services.
“It hurt a lot when he hit me,” said Scifres. “But we worked on it and I was able to get back out there.”
Still, the damage was done on the scoreboard, and for the Chargers, giving up that type of play is simply unforgiveable.
“That hurt us a lot,” said Darrell Stuckey, the Bolt’s special teams captain who stressed that it is unacceptable for the team to give up those type of plays. “Special teams is about hidden yards and getting yards. It’s about setting yourself up in the best possible position. Any time you allow a team to block a kick and score, instead of pushing them back on their own side of the field and forcing them to beat your defense, you’re giving them free points instead. That’s something we can’t do. We have to look at what happened and address it.”
Head coach Norv Turner saw what happened and broke it down for the media following the game.
"They came off the edge,” he said. “They caught us right in the middle of the protection. Obviously we fanned out and shouldn't have. We let the inside guy go."
Dante Rosario was one of the guys assigned to block on the play, and gave his own assessment of what happened and how it negatively impacted the end result.
“It came off the right side,” he said. “We’ll have to look at it and see how we can stop it next time. But it’s not sitting too well with us as a special teams unit. We know what we’re capable of. And every look that they’re going to give us, we’ve either seen on film or gone against it already this season. It’s just one of those things where it’s frustrating for us as a unit. We’re out there to not only help the defense but help the offense as well in terms of field position. We let the team down. There’s no way around it.” Read