Steelers return specialist Ryan Switzer was worried about spin on free kick against Chiefs
Ryan Switzer won’t deny that the Pittsburgh Steelers had their share of special-teams gaffes, but the return specialist considers his fielding of a free kick in the 42-37 loss to Kansas City on Sunday a judgment call.
Switzer explained Monday that he fielded the punt near the Chiefs’ sideline instead of letting it to go out of bounds, which would have been a penalty that gave the Steelers possession starting at midfield, because punter Dustin Colquitt’s kicks have a different rotation. Switzer caught the kick at the Steelers’ 15 and returned it to their 30.
“He’s a left-footed punter, so the way that ball spins it was going to hit and bounce. I didn’t think that it had a good chance of going out of bounds because of the way that ball spins,” said Switzer, who was acquired from the Oakland Raiders in a late-August trade.
“I thought it would’ve hit and bounced into the field of play, so I made the safe decision, caught the ball and got north immediately and tried to get what I could. Obviously, from the outside eye people can say what they want but I thought in that moment that I made the right decision.”
Switzer’s decision to catch the ball was questioned because a kick out of bounds would have been penalized, giving the Steelers the ball at midfield.
And it followed another special-teams screw up.
Following a safety that cut the Chiefs’ lead to 12 points at 12:02 of the fourth quarter, Colquitt kicked to Antonio Brown, who returned it 20 yards to the Steelers’ 47-yard line. That play, however, was nullified by an illegal formation penalty on Stevan Ridley.
The Steelers had 12 penalties for 90 yards, and that was one of three that occurred on special teams. Jordan Dangerfield and Tyler Matakevich also drew flags, and kicker Chris Boswell missed a field goal and an extra-point attempt.
“Penalties in general really killed us,” Switzer said. “We had some on special teams, as well. Anytime you get behind the chains like that or you put your offense in a bad situation with bad field position, it’s usually drive killers. That’s something we’ll address and something we’ll try to clean up.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.