Holliday hoping for another slump-busting playoffs

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2014 at 2:32 am •  Published: January 11, 2014
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens couldn't keep Trindon Holliday out of the record books a year ago, although they did manage to relegate him to a footnote.

Denver's returner snapped out of a slump when he piled up an NFL-record 248 yards in returns in the Broncos' 38-35 loss in double-overtime to the Ravens.

He's the only NFL player ever to take both a punt and a kickoff for scores in a playoff game, and nobody's ever returned a longer punt (90 yards) or kickoff (104 yards) in the postseason than he did on that frigid day in Denver.

Holliday enters this year's playoffs in another prolonged dry spell — he hasn't scored since September and he has six muffs over the last two months.

Still, Broncos special teams coach Jeff Rodgers remains a firm believer that he could be a difference-maker Sunday when the Broncos (13-3) face the San Diego Chargers (10-7) on a windy day at Sports Authority Field in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

"Every time that guy touches the ball, he's got a chance to get in the end zone," Rodgers said.

With a half-dozen TDs in 32 games, Holliday has the highest special teams TD rate (5.3) in NFL history since the 1970 merger, ahead of Devin Hester, who had 19 return touchdowns in 128 games (6.7).

Holliday had an 81-yard punt return for a TD against the Giants and a 105-yard kickoff return for a score against the Eagles in September, when the Broncos also blocked two punts.

Then, an injury epidemic on defense affected their special teams depth and one of the Broncos' biggest strengths became a weak link.

Not only has Holliday been bottled up for a career-high 11-game stretch — he was sidelined for another game by a concussion — but the Broncos have had at least one major mistake on special teams in each of their last six games:

— In his homecoming at New England, Wes Welker failed to signal his teammates to clear out fast enough and a punt bounced off teammate Tony Carter, the Patriots recovered and kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime.

— At Kansas City, the Broncos surrendered a franchise-record 108-yard kickoff return TD by Knile Davis.

— They allowed a 95-yard kickoff return by Tennessee's Leon Washington the following week.