The San Diego Chargers might have the lead over the AFC West rival Denver Broncos for now, but they’re still trying to find ways to give it back to their opponent. This time, it’s wide receiver/punt returner Travis Benjamin with the inexplicably poor decision that nearly led to six points the other way.
At first, Benjamin makes the right call in letting a short Broncos punt bounce rather than run up and try to make a difficult fair catch. That’s where the smart call ends for the fifth-year veteran however, as once the ball draws near, he gets it in his head that maybe he will try to return it after all.
Then he’s not so sure again, but by then it’s too late. The ball touches Benjamin, and the Broncos make the easy recovery at San Diego’s 11-yard line. Take a look.
The officials initially ruled it was San Diego’s ball, but a replay review showed otherwise. The incorrect call didn’t hurt the Broncos though, as NFL rules state the ball can’t be advanced by the kicking team on a muffed punt.
As for the Chargers, it’s just one more thing they can add to the list of how they’re beating themselves. Sure, they minimized the damage by holding the Broncos to a field goal, and yes, San Diego still leads 10-3 in the first half. Regardless, these are exactly the kind of plays that have the team sitting on a disappointing 1-4 record heading into Thursday night.
As for Benjamin, we wouldn’t expect to see too much more of him on punt-return duties if that’s the quality of decision making that’s to be expected.