DENVER (CBS4) – When the Broncos review film of Sunday’s playoff win over the Chargers, Eric Decker might be seen cringing a few times in the film room.
Decker had two catches for 32 yards and three punt returns for 66 yards, but Broncos fans will probably remember the following two plays where things didn’t go so well for the wide receiver during the game.
Punt Return Trip Up
Decker only returned one punt during the regular season, but he was given the punt returning duties on Sunday. That was probably because the Broncos didn’t want to risk any further injury to Wes Welker, plus they may be concerned about recent fumbles by Trindon Holliday.
With 3:36 left in the first half and the score 14-0, Decker fielded a punt by Mike Scifres at the Broncos 22 yard line. Decker proceeded to power his way through several tacklers and crossed the midfield marker. At the Chargers 45 yard line Scifres was the only Chargers player left to pass and Decker jumped over his outstretched hand. With an open field in front of him Decker then tripped and fell to the turf. Oops.
When describing the play Broncos Radio Network announcer Dave Logan jokingly said “Somebody please mow the turf!”
Peyton Manning then led the Broncos deep into Chargers territory and on third and goal he launched a pass to Decker in the endzone. Chargers defenders knocked the pass out of Decker’s grasp and then intercepted it.
In the locker room after the game Decker winced a bit when he was asked about the punt return. The play clearly brought back memories of his similar trip at Qualcomm Stadium in October 2012.
“I guess it was that invisible fence again that got me,” he said. “I got a little excited and I tripped myself and wish I could have that play back.”
On-Sides Kick Bobble
On-sides kicks are always big risks for an NFL team, but the Chargers felt it was worth it to give one a shot with 5:43 still on the clock near the end of the game and the Broncos ahead 24-14.
Chargers kicker Nick Novak lined up to make the kick and then launched it about 10 yards forwards and high in the air. Decker leaped up to grab it but he bobbled it as he was reaching to make the catch and the ball fell to the turf. The Chargers recovered the kick.
The Chargers then drove down the field and kicked a field goal. On the next kickoff they opted against another on-sides kick. And Decker probably breathed a sigh of relief.
Decker had a monster regular season along with fellow receivers Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. In the Broncos win over the Chiefs on Dec. 2 he had eight catches for 174 yards and four touchdowns, both career bests.
Decker wound up with 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season.