After Week 15, the Kansas City Chiefs special teams unit was once again the subject of scrutiny from media members and fans.
Harrison Butker took full ownership of any missed kicks on his part, but there were also some questions about punter Tommy Townsend — who was called out by ex-NFL punter Dustin Colquitt for some inconsistent holds when placing the football after the snap.
Needless to say, this unit was under the microscope versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16, but they managed to answer the bell this time around. After the game, quarterback Patrick Mahomes II supported his special teams department with a strong vote of confidence.
Patrick Mahomes Backs Chiefs ST Unit After Seahawks Win
“I believe we have one of the best punters, one of the best kickers, and one of the best deep-snappers in the league,” Mahomes told reporters during his postgame press conference. “And [Dave] Toub is the best special teams coach in the league.”
“I have confidence in those guys [in that] they’re going to go out there and make it happen every time,” the team leader continued. “Every great team has great special teams and I feel like that’s why we’ve been who we are these last few years.”
When a player — or group of players — is struggling, it’s always nice to hear a respected teammate pick them up in front of the media. It goes a long way in the locker room and hopefully, it helps take some of the pressure off this unit after they showed some improvement against Seattle.
On paper, the Chiefs ST unit had a solid day outside of a 48-yard kick return that was allowed in the first quarter. Butker went four-for-four on kicks, even though three were extra points, and Townsend landed three of six punts inside the 20-yard line.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney also reclaimed the punt returner role, averaging nine yards per attempt. It wasn’t necessarily a spectacular performance but more importantly, no crucial mistakes were made and that’s a step in the right direction.
Toub’s department will continue to try and clean up any issues as Kansas City heads toward the postseason.
Patrick Mahomes Credits Defense for Seahawks Win
Mahomes was also very complimentary of the Chiefs defense after Week 16.
“I was extremely proud,” he voiced. “That’s a really good offense. They’ve put up a lot of points on a lot of good teams this year and for our defense to stop them in so many critical moments, that’s what we need going forward.”
The Chiefs superstar added that “when [the defense] plays like that, [Kansas City] is going to be a hard team to beat.”
He was a bit more critical of his unit, noting that the offense has “to execute at a little higher level.” Mahomes did accept that his guys “got what we needed done,” but he didn’t appear 100% satisfied with the outing versus Seattle — the mark of a true competitor.
In terms of turnover-free football, the Chiefs QB’s response went back to his defense again. “When the defense is playing like that, it’s my job to not make those [offensive] struggles worse,” he relayed responsibly. “If that’s just throwing the ball away or if we’re not getting the first down, not forcing it — that’s what you have to do. They stepped up and made a lot of good plays, and I was just patient enough to get us enough points at the end of the game.”