After a weekend that saw a 108 yard kick return by Packers rookie Randall Cobb, the NFL finished off its opening weekend with a Monday Night Football game that did not see a single kick off return.
Kickers Sebastian Janikowski and Matt Prater took turns booting the ball out of the back of the endzone all night long, as returners Jacoby Ford and Eddie Royal routinely lined up at the back of the endzone and watched the ball fly over their heads.
It was obvious from the start of the game that kick returns would be minimal when Janikowski landed the opening kick off deep in the stands. Both teams boast kickers with strong legs, add to that the thin Denver air and neither one had a problem preventing the other team’s kick off returner from having an impact.
Later in the game, Hue Jackson tried to get Prater to keep a ball in play by putting Nick Miller in as the return man in hopes that the Broncos were simply too afraid of Ford to risk keeping the ball in play. That trick, however, did not work as Miller spent just as much time as Ford with his neck cocked back, watching balls fly over his head.
Last season as a rookie, Jacoby Ford returned three kick offs for touchdowns. With that kind of threat, the Raiders can expect this kind of treatment whenever they face a team whose kicker is capable of getting the kick off out of play.
Not only does the new kick off rule make the game less exciting, but it also takes a big advantage away from any team who has a dangerous kick returner like Jacoby Ford.