"It felt good to get that return – everyone blocked it well and it brought my confidence back,” Allen said.
The Chargers special teams unit looked and played like a more confident bunch on Saturday night. The third phase of the game was the team's strongest - a stark departure from last week's results against the Bears, when the group relinquished a 100-yard return and Allen's fumbled punt.
Against stronger returners in Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu this week, the Chargers stepped up their game. Special teams not only kept both Peterson and Mathieu in check - it outshined what could be the most dangerous group in the league on Saturday night.
"We challenged everyone on special teams during our week of practice to pick it up, and they answered the bell,” said coach Mike McCoy. “This is the way we like to play, with all three phases doing their job.”
The special teams turnaround began with a bang. After foxing a punt on the Cardinals' first possession, Allen lined up on his own ten to receive.
He never did. Safety
"No one came out to block me and it kind of left a seam there," Stuckey said. "I just went through and made a play. (Coach) kept on us during the week about how important special teams was and we picked up our tempo tonight."
Allen was the next Charger to answer McCoy’s challenge. Early in the second quarter, Zastudil's low-arching punt came to the rookie faster than the Cardinals gunners could. And after a few key blocks, Allen dashed down the visitors' sideline for 44 yards and his first big play.
"We’ve been pushing on it all week – special teams is going to win us this game,” Allen said. “We wanted to come out and win all phases of special teams tonight.
I wish we could’ve got a touchdown (on the punt return), but it feels good.”
Another big block capped the team's special night on special teams.
Rookie defensive lineman
“Me and Cam (Thomas) lined up over the guard and we did what we’ve done all week,” said Geathers. “I blocked twelve kicks in college just like that.”
That’s music to the ears of McCoy. It's been eleven years since the team blocked a regular-season field goal, but in tonight's tune up, it felt like that streak could fall.
"It was great to see as a football coach," said McCoy. “We challenged everyone this week to take the next step, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”