Diving catch brings back memories for Stuckey
By Michael Gehlken & Scott Bair • U-T
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Darrell Stuckey has a little baseball in him.
The Chargers safety grew up playing center field in Kansas City.
On Thursday, against his hometown team, he played it again.
Stuckey pinned the Chiefs deep in their territory in the third quarter,
making a basket catch at full stretch to glove a 38-yard Mike Scifres
punt during a 31-13 win.
Just like old times.
“I loved to lay out and dive as a kid,” Stuckey said. “In high school,
that’s all I did was dive, dive, dive. I had a great range playing
center field, so today, I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t think of
whether the returner was trying to return it or not. I just knew that
Mike’s punt, in the end, is going to drop somewhere inside the 10-yard
The Chiefs took over at their own 7.
San Diego has its share of strong special teams coverage players, but
Scifres and the 25-year-old special teams captain arguably form a duo as
strong as any in the league in the battle for field position.
Stuckey leads the team with 10 special teams tackles, eight of which are
Two of those tackles came Thursday.
“He makes it easy for me,” said Scifres, who pinned both of his punts on
the night inside the 20. “As fast and as physical as he is, when you
single him, we’re going to win 99 percent of the time. The play he made
with the punt on the 7, that’s going to go down as one of the best plays
any gunner in the NFL could make. How he laid out and caught it in
It was shades of Willie Mays.
Except for the spinning throw at the end.
“I could have done a crow hop and thrown it,” Stuckey said with a laugh.
“Might have been delay of game.”
It’s no easy matchup against Chiefs outside pass rushers Tamba Hali and
For most of the night, Jared Gaither drew the former.
With Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers operating behind a largely clean
pocket, the left tackle handled the marquee matchup with mixed results.
He was flagged for two false starts in the first half.
In the third quarter, he allowed a 4-yard sack to Hali and, on the next
play, was whistled for holding.
“No comment,” said Gaither, who played in his second game five days
after returning from a groin injury.
On the right side, Jeromey Clary faced mostly defensive linemen Allen
Bailey and Anthony Toribio. He saw only a few plays against outside
linebacker Houston, who mostly dropped back in coverage.
None of Houston’s six sacks on the season have come in his two games
against the Chargers.
“They played it pretty much straight, the same way they did the last
time,” Clary said. “We kind of stuck with the same game plan as well. It
Another good game for Butler
Shaun Phillips made a point to find Donald Butler after Thursday’s
victory, and not just to congratulate the young inside linebacker on a
job well done.
Butler had nine tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defensed against the
Kansas City Chiefs, but Phillips was impressed by more than just the
Butler was hitting hard. He was an intimadator. Most importantly, Butler
was always in the right position to make a play.
“He’s such a stud. I walked up to him after the game and said, ‘Man, you
can really play some football,’” Phillips said. “He’s young, but he’s a
playmaker through and through. I’m really happy for him and I’m thankful
that he’s on our side.”
Butler has never played better, and has the confidence that comes with
“It was another good game for me, but getting the win was more important
than anything I did personally,” Butler said. “I’m just one of 11 guys
on that defense, and I try to fill my role as best I can.”
Nuts ’n’ Bolts
• Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes said he felt his left hamstring pop
on a fourth quarter punt. He walked into the locker room with help from
athletic trainers. He’ll have an MRI on Monday. “They said nothing
major,” Barnes said. “When they checked it out, I still have a little
strength in it. It should be fine.”
• The Chargers reported three other injuries: safety Atari Bigby (hip),
linebacker Demorrio Williams (abdominal) and defensive end Vaughn Martin
• San Diego essentially had a four-man rotation at outside linebacker
Sunday against the Browns with Larry English seeing two defensive snaps.
That rotation became official Thursday; English was a healthy scratch.