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Raiders notebook: Team has flair for special teams

  • Celebration in the end zone after blocked punt touchdown. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

OAKLAND — Special teams, often overlooked in the scouting reports, can win football games. Or at least make losses a little more respectable.

Two of the Raiders' most exciting plays in Sunday's 24-14 loss to Washington came out of punt formation — including the first score of the game. Neither team had done much of anything when Washington's Sav Rocca went back to kick 4:16 into the game. But Oakland's Rashad Jennings came flying in with an inside rush and blocked the punt. It bounced twice before teammate Jeremy Stewart recovered for his first NFL touchdown.

It was Jennings' second career blocked punt, and the Raiders' first punt block for a touchdown since Oct. 10, 2010.

Oakland Raiders vs. Washington Redskins

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Coach Dennis Allen said the Raiders saw in film study that they might be able to pressure Rocca. Jennings insisted that's nothing unusual.

“It's always an opportunity to make a play,” he said. “If you watch film, no matter who it is, you're gonna see opportunities to make plays.

“On special teams, something that I always do is I really study the snappers, to get the get-off. That's really what makes a difference.”

The Raiders were up 14-10 in the second quarter when punter Marquette King took the field on fourth-and-1. But special teams coordinator Bobby April got tricky. King moved behind center, and gunner Taiwan Jones retreated into the backfield. Jones took a shotgun snap and ran 19 yards to prolong the drive.

“When I first got it, felt like they had the angle on me,” the speedy Jones said. “But it was a nice block in front of me, so I was able to get around the (left) corner.”

Alas, his achievement didn't lead to points. After three plays, King was lining up for another punt, and he actually put his foot to this one.

Stand your ground

The Oakland defense played pretty well on Sunday, but one recurring problem visited the team again: the offside penalty.

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