From Arrowhead Stadium
Down 14-3 early in the third quarter, the Chiefs offense had the ball, but stalled at the Miami 34-yard line. There were still 10 minutes to play in the quarter, so the Chiefs were in no way out of the game, yet.
Todd Haley sent the field goal team on to the field, and K Ryan Succop lined up for what would have been a 52-yard field goal. Now, in pre-game warm-ups, Succop hit from 53 yards towards the east goal posts and he had room to spare.
Facing those same east goal posts, Succop lined up for the FG.
But the Chiefs were not out there to kick a field goal. They were not out there to fake a field goal.
The play that was called was for Succop to pooch punt the ball for field position. The snap was supposed to go to the kicker.
Thomas Gafford did not know that. That’s why he snapped the ball to holder Dustin Colquitt and why Colquitt stood up and tried to run with the ball before he was snowed under by LB Karlos Dansby of the Dolphins.
Colquitt fumbled the ball, but RG Jon Asamoah recovered. No matter, because the Dolphins had the ball at their 39-yard line. Four players later they scored a third touchdown and effectively put the game out of reach.
“There was a play on and I didn’t know it,” Gafford said after the game. “I thought it was a field goal. I didn’t get the word.”
It would seem to be one of the primary duties in a situation like this one that the guy who starts the play should be clued into the action. Normally, that information is communicated on the sideline because the Chiefs don’t really huddle on FG attempts.
Maybe they should.
“I don’t know how I missed it, but I did,” said Gafford. “I snapped the ball and I was waiting to hear the thump of Ryan’s foot on the ball. But the next thing I know the ball is on the ground and everybody is diving for it. I didn’t know what happened.”
The most surprised person on the snap was Colquitt. Expecting the ball to sail past him to Succop, he was just trying to make sure he didn’t give anything away before his kicker got off the punt.
“It was just a miscommunication,” Colquitt said. “We weren’t all on the same page.”
With the ball in his hands, Colquitt figured he’d better do something, so he tried to run straight ahead.
“I was trying to make something from nothing,” Colquitt said.
In a game decided by 28 points, the botched pooch punt is not going to go down as the deciding moment. But it doesn’t help.
“We need to be cleaner in our execution next time,” Colquitt said. “We have to have better communication.”