Although today’s 24-7 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs was a long afternoon that began brightly with a touchdown unraveled into a slow execution of an offensive line, the Oakland Raiders can take minute, albeit resentful, solace in the fact that their punter had a good game. Pessimists need not continue.
Have their eyes averted? Ok, good. Marquette King, the man chosen to replace Shane Lechler, a Raiders great, is showing early signs that he has the qualities to carry the torch that was ignited by Ray Guy and passed on from Lechler. Mighty shoes to fill especially for one possessing a small resume, but the 24 year old could have been the x-factor today if the Raiders did leave Kansas City with a seventh consecutive victory. The Raiders were halted convincingly on that front but before it got out of hand, King’s booming kicks kept the game close.
Eight punts on the day is something no offense wishes to contribute to, but when analyzing King, it gave us numerous times to see his worth. Looking at the vertebrae of the eight, King recorded an average of 51.8 yards, one punt inside the 20, one touchback, and his longest kick was a towering 64 yards. A begrudgingly active day for a punter, but it was not a wasteful one on his part.
Before the Oakland Raiders imploded in the second half, King along with the defense, was keeping the game close. His two punts in the first quarter was one to the Chiefs’ 33- yard line and a touchback. That quarter ended as a 0-0 stalemate. After leading in the second quarter, King sent a booming kick 51 yards down field but his effort was spurned by a decent return and a bonehead ineligible man downfield on the kicking team advanced the ball to the 45 yard line. Kansas City would score on the ensuing drive and tie up the game at 7-7. King’s 64 yard boomer happened toward the end of the half and pinned the Chiefs deep with little time left on the clock for any quick strike before the half.
Unfortunately for the Raiders’ score sheet, the second half kept King busy with five punts. King however was able to send the ball deep into the Chiefs’ own field numerous times to keep things close. The Chief’s defense shined today, picking off Terrelle Pryor three times including one pick six. Pryor’s first interception spurned a short drive and a Jamaal Charles touchdown.
As the game progressed and the Raiders were unable to move the ball offensively, King kept winning the field position battle, the Raiders defense would hold Alex Smith, and a win was still attainable. However when you add a numerous sacks and two turnovers, which the Chiefs turned into 10 points, you have your score line. Not the recipe needed for a team looking to be .500 and eager to make a statement in a rapturous AFC West.
Today’s game was a bitter pill to swallow for the Raider Nation, but in that myriad of sewage and torment, King emerged as a sliver of optimism in the fact that the Raiders, once again, possess a punter who can dictate field position. Just knowing what to do with it with it is a whole different story.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @jermg11.