Special Teams is Raiders’ X-Factor

Kickers are usually the guy you tease; the “weakling” on the team. When they make tackles, guys nudge each other and say “That was the kicker! Bet he’s happy.” Sure, everyone knows that the kicker is absolutely essential. At times the entire game rests on his shoulders. Even still, special teams is the “special” team on the field. This is absolutely not the case with the Raiders, and the entire NFL knows it.

Perusing the Raiders’ longest plays in history, current Raiders like Shane Lechler, Sebastian Janikowski and Jacoby Ford hold many of the records. Janikowski in fact holds just about every field goal record ranging from 55 to 63 yards. Lechler has the longest punt at 77 yards. Jacoby Ford holds 4/6 of the longest kickoff returns, after last week. All this to say, while many teams’ special teams are decent, none in the NFL compares overall to the Raiders. Some may have a key player or two, like Devin Hester, but the Raiders have special teams weapons at every turn.

Last week, Shane Lechler became the first punter since Hunter Smith in 2009 to throw for a touchdown. In the wake of Jason Campbell’s injury, and Boller’s implosion rusty arm, Lechler was a weapon no one saw coming. He not only threw for a touchdown, but threw in a 4th and punt situation. What team can defend against that? This isn’t your grandpa’s wildcat offense; what the Raiders have the weapons to create is an entirely new beast. They also have the creative, aggressive coach who can make it happen.

These are few teams who can legitimately say their special teams helped them win the game week after week. Sure, they contributed, but they weren’t an actual factor. The Raiders’ special team is a factor in each and every week. Let’s hope Janikowski’s hamstring injury is not too severe.

Posted in Regular Season 2011 Tagged with: , , ,

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