One of the stranger plays from the Carolina Panthers’ victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday came in the fourth quarter, when rookie Curtis Samuel returned a kickoff 3 yards ... and took a knee at the 14.
The poor starting field position eventually led to Michael Palardy punting out of his end zone and gave the Lions a short field, which Matthew Stafford exploited with a quick touchdown drive to pull Detroit within a field goal.
Because the Panthers held on to win, Samuel was able to laugh about the miscue, which he said was the result of a miscommunication between him and one of the specials teams coaches.
With the Panthers sending their “hands team” out for a possible onsides kick, Samuel was on his own aligned deep without much in the way of blocking. So he was told to get what he could, and then get down to protect himself.
“When I was told to get as much yards as you can and then get down, I thought get down as in get down. But he really meant take less contact as you can and try to get down,” Samuel explained Monday.
“Basically saying, ‘Just don’t go down like that. Take a little bit of contact.’ But I’ll learn from it. Next time I get an opportunity I’ll try to put the offense in the best situation they can be in.”
Actually, Samuel did get an opportunity after the Lions scored with a little more than three minutes remaining. Again, the Panthers were prepared for a possible onsides kick, only to see Matt Prater kick it deep again.
This time Samuel gathered the kick inside the 10, and ran right for 17 yards to the Panthers’ 23.