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Chiefs' Colquitt unsung star for losing team

Chiefs' Colquitt unsung star for losing team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The job description alone should scare away all but the most confident of souls.

Must be able to kick an awkwardly shaped ball at least 50 yards. Must generate enough hang-time to enable proper coverage. Must do it all in the midst of thousands of screaming fans, with half a dozen defenders bringing pressure and the game's outcome hanging in the balance.

And the only time you'll receive any attention is when you make a mistake, when you mishandle a snap or shank a punt or hit one right into the end zone instead of spiking it at the 5.

Yes, it's a surprise anybody would be up for such a task.

Dustin Colquitt relishes it.

The veteran punter is arguably the Kansas City Chiefs' most unsung star. He's their inept offense's best friend for his ability to flip field position in a single snap, and their defense's secret weapon in pinning the opponent deep within its own territory.

``When you talk about field position, helping your team,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, ``he definitely does that.''

Finally, he's starting to get some attention for it.

Colquitt was one of five Chiefs players voted to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday. He'll be joined in Hawaii but better-known stars such as running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, all of whom have made it to the all-star game in the past.

This will be Colquitt's first trip, though.

He's certainly deserving of it.

In his seventh season out of Tennessee, the Chiefs' punter has had the finest season of his career. He's averaging 46.9 yards on 75 punts for a team that's 2-13, doing his job superbly even while those around him have struggled to do much with the prime field position he's created.

``That's my job,'' Colquitt said. ``That's my role and you have to be comfortable with that, regardless of what the offense or defense is doing. You have to be special.''

He's been special at a record-setting pace, too. Colquitt has put 42 punts inside the 20 this season, which trails only Arizona's Dave Zastudil (44) for the most in the NFL. It also matches the record going into this season, shared by Ben Graham, Andy Lee and Steve Weatherford.

But the Cardinals' Zastudil has punted 106 times to break the record, while Colquitt has put an astonishing 56 percent of his kicks inside the opponent's red zone.

``It's awesome,'' Colquitt said of perhaps setting the record for punts inside the 20. ``It was cool setting the Kansas City Chiefs record and tying the NFL record, and it would mean a lot to me. My dad always told me, `If you do anything in football, be the defensive coordinator's best friend.' That's how I've always looked at it.''

Colquitt's father, Craig, should know. He won a pair of Super Bowl rings while punting for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1978-84. His uncle, Jimmy Colquitt, also appeared in a couple of games as a punter for the Seattle Seahawks during the 1985 season.

On Sunday, the first family of punters will have another reunion in Denver.

Colquitt will be punting for the Chiefs in the thin air of Sports Authority Field, while his younger brother Britton Colquitt will be hammering punts for the Broncos, who have a chance to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and a little help.

``We kind of play it off and say it doesn't matter,'' Dustin Colquitt said of the sibling rivalry, ``but at the end of the day, you get on the plane or bus, it's like, `Hey, let me see that stat sheet real quick.'''

Colquitt is in the final year of an $8.5 million, five-year deal with Kansas City, which makes his future a bit uncertain. Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel could be out of jobs by Monday, so the chances of Colquitt signing an extension are slim at best.

He's good enough that some wonder whether the Chiefs will take the rare step of franchising a punter. Otherwise, he could be a coveted special-teams player on the free-agent market.

Colquitt isn't worried about that just yet. He's played his entire career with the Chiefs, and would rather focus on finishing up another lost season with one more solid outing.

Even if few people ultimately notice.

``We want to win this game, leave a good taste in our mouth this offseason,'' he said. ``Denver's already kind of set up with its postseason shot, so we have to put our minds to it, have a good game plan and execute it.''

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What you need to know from the Ravens' 27-14 win over the Broncos

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USA TODAY Sports

What you need to know from the Ravens' 27-14 win over the Broncos

The Ravens got a 27-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

It was an interesting game for many reasons including Broncos star rookie running back, Phillip Lindsay, getting ejected in the first half for throwing a punch.

Here's what you need to know from Sunday's win:

— Rookie linebacker Kenny Young stepped in for injured C.J. Mosley and showed he will be a starter. Young had a critical sack on Broncos quarterback Case Keenum on a third down in the second and finished the day with 10 tackles. The Ravens defense as a whole was impressive. While they gave up a lot of short third downs, they stopped their fair share as well. Most importantly was the late fourth quarter interception from Patrick Onwuasor, while the Broncos were threatening in Ravens territory. 

— The Ravens are continuing to work on the run game, as something offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg emphasized after the team was averaging just 3.3-yards-per-carry heading into Week 3. Against the Broncos, the team averaged just 2.8 yard-per-carry, but put up two rushing touchdowns from Buck Allen and Alex Collins.

— It was a strange day for the Ravens' special teams when the Broncos blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. The day became even stranger when safety Justin Simmons, (illegally) leaped over long snapper Morgan Cox to block a field goal and the penalty went uncalled. Kicker Justin Tucker made up for it by hitting not one, but two 52-yard field goals, his eighth straight from beyond 50. 

Joe Flacco finished the day 25 of 40 for 277 yards and one touchdown, while helping improve the team to 12-12 in the red zone. The QBs most impressive play came late in the fourth on a third down hitting the gas pedal, to not only get the first down but stayed in-bounds to keep the clock running and sealing the team's victory. His connection with John Brown continues to be strong after finding the receiver for a 44-yard gain, too.

The Ravens are now 2-1 and head to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night matchup in Week 4. 

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Five observations from the Redskins win over the Packers

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Five observations from the Redskins win over the Packers

LANDOVER, Md. — Entering Week 3, it was unsure which Redskins team would show up: the team that dismantled the Cardinals in Week 1 on the road, or the team that fell to the Colts by multiple scores in their home opener a week ago.

On Sunday, the Redskins looked a lot more like the team from week 1.

Behind a solid running game led by Adrian Peterson's two touchdowns and a strong defensive performance, the Redskins defeated the Packers 31-17 on Sunday. 

Here are Rich Tandler's observations from Week 3.

FIVE KEY OBSERVATIONS FROM REDSKINS vs. PACKERS WEEK 2

1. They got off to a great start and kept going

If  the  Redskins  were  going  to  win  this  game  they  knew  they  would  have  to  stick  with  the  Packers  score  for  score  and  score  touchdowns,  not  field  goals.  They  did  what  the  doctor  ordered,  getting  in  the  end  zone  on  two  of  their  first  three  possession.  The  first  one  was  a  quick  strike  with  Alex  Smith  throwing  a  46-yard  TD  to  Paul  Richardson  to  cap  a  four-play  drive.  The  next  one  took  10  plays  and  it  ended  on  a  two-yard  Adrian  Peterson  touchdown  run.  That  made  it  14-0.  The  Redskins  kept  their  foot  on  the  gas,  driving  to  two  more  touchdowns  before  halftime  to  take  a  28-10  lead  into  the  locker  room.  It  was  exactly  what  they  needed  coming  off  a  flat  loss  as  favorites  last  week.    

2. Alex Smith shows he can throw deep

During  the  week  there  were  plenty  of  fans  and  members  of  the  media  pointing  out  that  Alex  Smith  wasn’t  throwing  the  ball  deep,  that  he  had  returned  to  being  the  checkdown  game  manager  he  was  for  most  of  his  career.  But  he  limbered  up  his  arm  on  the  first  series  with  the  46-yard  touchdown  bomb  to.  In  the  second  quarter  he  went  deep  down  the  right  sideline  to  Vernon  Davis  for  a  50-yard  game.  He  finished  the  day  12  for  20  with  220  yards  and  2  TDs.  Smith  also  ran  for  20  yards.  Smith  had  an  interception  due  to  a  miscommunication  with  Jordan  Reed.  All  in  all,  a  better  day  for  Smith.    

3. The defense was strong early and late

The  Redskins  defense  was  good  early,  when  the  Redskins  were  in  the  process  of  building  a  21-3  lead.  And  they  were  good  in  the  fourth  quarter  when  they  held  the  Packers  to  a  three  and  out  from  deep  in  their  own  territory.  It  should  be  noted  that  the  did  benefit  from  a  dropped  deep  pass  on  third  down  that  would  have  given  the  Packers  the  first  down  and  excellent  field  position.  With  a  little  over  five  minutes  left,  they  got  a  takeaway  to  put  the  Redskins  in  great  position  to  win.  After  a  short  completion,  Fabian  Moreau  stripped  the  ball  away  and  Josh  Norman  recovered  at  the  Packers  46.

4. Peterson gets back on track

There  was  talk  that  Adrian  Peterson  all  of  a  sudden  aged  from  Week  1,  when  he  gained  96  yards,  to  Week  2,  when  he  picked  up  20  yards  on  11  carries.  Today  he  was  back  on  the  ball.  He  had  a  41-yard  run  in  the  second  quarter.  But  his  best  runs  were  when  the  Redskins  were  trying  to  kill  the  clock  and  he  tore  off  gains  of  17,  two,  and  seven  yards.  He  again  looked  like  a  viable  NFL  running  back  as  he  ran  for  120  yards  on  19  carries.   

5. The bye is ahead

The Redskins are going into their ridiculously early bye week on a high note. They have played well twice, and they didn’t show up for the one in between. They will have a long, tough road ahead of them. The team will go to into it knowing that they can compete with one of the best teams in the league with the best player in the league and come out on top. When they return two weeks from tomorrow, they will face another one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Drew Brees.

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