Midway through the first quarter of Raiders’ game against the Chiefs Sunday, a pretty awesome play happened, that I don’t think should go unnoticed. The play-by-play doesn’t reflect it and the game announcers thought it was a fluke, when in reality it was a savvy play by a veteran special teams maven that gave the Raiders outstanding field position.
The Chiefs had just scored for the second time on a field goal to go up 10-0 on the Raiders. Harrison Butker kicked off and the gamebook simply says “H.Butker kicks 64 yards from KC 35 to OAK 1, out of bounds.” But there was a lot more to it than that.
The kickoff looked like it was either destined to go for a touchback or stopped at the one-yard-line. Return man Dwayne Harris went for option three. It was such a seemingly obscure strategy that is fooled the announcers (and thus a large portion of the listening audience) into thinking he made a mistake. He did not.
Take a look:
After video Dan Fouts “I’ve never seen anything like that. Where a guy makes a mistake and benefits from it?” ♀️ pic.twitter.com/8hESvnfCqU— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) December 3, 2018
With Harris out of bounds and touching the ball, the kickoff was ruled out of bounds, which is a penalty and give the Raiders the ball at the 40-yard-line.
There was no question in my mind Harris knew just what he was doing on this play. But I wanted to hear it from him directly, so I asked him about it after the game. He said, of course, that he knew what he was doing all along. Even if the officials (and the announcers) initially did not.
“They were trying to say it was a touchback, that’s what they were trying to call,” said Harris.
“I’ve been doing this for a while. Been playing kicks around eight years now. You just got to know the rules. In the heat of the game, you just got to stay calm and know what you know and go and do it.”
Harris was a priority free agent signing by special team’s coach Rich Bisaccia, who made sure he brought in Pro Bowl special teamer, who he had coached for two seasons (2013-14) in Dallas. It’s plays like this one that illustrate why he is an invaluable special teams contributor.
“That was a great play, you don’t see that very often,” said Jon Gruden. “Good coaching by Bisaccia. His (Harris) experience showed there. He knew exactly what he was doing. I wouldn’t advise that at home, that’s quite a dangerous play around the one-yard-line, but heads-up football play by a guy that knows what he’s doing.”
Harris is not only a return man, he is also one of the league’s top gunners. He currently leads the Raiders and is 7th in the NFL with 10 combined special teams tackles. Harris added a solo tackle and an assist on Sunday as well.