Martin: Bobble helped spring return TD

Martin: Bobble helped spring return TD
November 21, 2013, 9:00 am
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(USA Today Images)

Keshawn Martin found the secret to returning a punt for a touchdown. He just had to let it hit him in the face first.

That’s exactly what happened on Sunday against the Raiders, when, with less than three minutes remaining in the half, Martin took a punt off a bad 87 yards for a touchdown.

“Yeah, it kind of took a high hop on me,” Martin said on Wednesday. “I wasn’t going to catch it, so I let it roll a little bit and it took a high bounce, then it hit me so I had to get on it. I tried to get on it as fast as I can. When I picked it up I just saw a whole bunch of room. Guys did great job of blocking and I just took off.”

Martin waited for the ball at the 10-yard line and as it bounced toward him, it hopped up and hit him in the facemask. He quickly recovered, however, and found some running room up the right side and finished off the longest punt return in franchise history and the third-longest for a touchdown this year in the NFL.

And the ball hitting him in the facemask actually helped.

“Yeah, it definitely helped a little bit,” said Martin, who caught a touchdown pass for his first career TD last season. “When things like that happen, guys kind of get out of their lanes and they kind of got out of their lanes. The whole right side of the field was open so I just took it. After that it was six.”

Before Martin tied up the game at 14-14 with under three minutes to go in the first half, he had started his career with 43 straight punt returns without a touchdown. But there were a few times he thought he got pretty close over the last two years.

“Yeah, you get the first one out the way, it’s always a relief,” said Martin, a 2012 fourth-rounder. “It feels like forever, since I returned a punt, but got it out the way and I look forward to returning more.”

Well, it wasn’t forever. But it had been a while since Martin had a return touchdown. His last one came nearly two years ago as a senior in college. Martin, then playing for Michigan State, returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown in a 31-17 win over Northwestern.

Aside from just making his presence felt in the return game, Martin also played a role on offense against the Raiders too. He caught two passes and was targeted five times, all in the fourth quarter. His five targets are the second most of any game in his NFL career.

After a very good training camp, Martin hasn’t produced the way some thought he would in his second season. But an injury played a role. Martin hurt his shoulder in early October and the injury lingered. He’s finally healthy.

“Well, Keshawn is finally healthy and you guys finally saw that last week,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “He went through a month where he could barely lift his arm and he tried to play for us. That’s encouraging going forward.”

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