From Arrowhead Stadium
Take a close look at the picture to the left. It’s not one that is often seen.
That’s Chiefs long snapper Thomas Gafford holding the ball a loft. Gafford touches the ball all the time during games, but usually he’s bent over about to send it backwards between his legs.
On this occasion, he got to touch the ball twice on the same play and it turned out to be huge for the Chiefs. That fumble came at the end of a 49-yard punt return by Mike Thomas that carried the ball inside the Kansas City 30-yard line. Rather than having great field position, the Chiefs offense got the ball back.
They scored two plays later with Jamaal Charles, set up by a 70-yard run by Thomas Jones.
“That’s why you don’t give up, on a game or a play,” said Gafford. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
What happened on this play was Gafford snapped the ball to P Dustin Colquitt who got off a 46-yard punt that Thomas caught at the Jacksonville 14-yard line. He took off up the middle and then quickly pushed the return to his left. Thomas ran away from a trailing S Donald Washington, and then got outside LBs Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays and finally WR Terrance Copper. He was out the gate and the only person between Thomas and the end zone was Colquitt, who caught part of his leg and slowed him down.
What Thomas didn’t know was that the Chiefs did not stop chasing him. Especially CB Javier Arenas, who has made a place for himself as a returner, but also serves on all the coverage teams and gets things done no matter the job handed to him. Arenas gave chase and caught up to Thomas as Colquitt slowed him down. He came through with his left arm and punched the ball out.
“OK, I’m blocking, they are setting up a return, and then it’s ‘oh no he got out’,” Gafford explained. “Then it’s chase, chase, chase and then something good happened. The ball came out.”
The Jaguars had the first shot at the ball as former Chiefs DB Tyron Brackenridge and RB Montell Owens were on the ball first. But rather than fall and grab the ball, they tried to pick it up on the run. That left the ball on the ground and that’s when Gafford got down on the ball.
“Luckily I was chasing so when the ball came out, they had two guys on it quick and luckily they weren’t able to get on it,” Gafford said. “It squirted out. I was right behind them and I fell on it and there wasn’t anybody getting that ball out of my hands.
“It all happened so fast.”
And two plays later the Chiefs were on the scoreboard. What a huge turn of events in the early moments of the game.
“It was something bad and it became something good,” Gafford said. “It ended up to be a good thing because we were all chasing. It didn’t just happen. We were able to make something good happen.”