Monday, October 6, 2003
Vermeil: Clip could have been called on Hall return
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Even the NFL officials seemed awed by
Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil said Monday a clipping call could
have been made during Hall's remarkable 93-yard punt return that
beat Denver 24-23 on Sunday. The penalty would have nullified the
"It's a judgment call. If I were the Broncos, I'd say I want it
called," said Vermeil.
The coach said it depends on the angle from which the play is
viewed to determine if Julian Battle hit his man on the back or
The darting, knee-buckling return was Hall's fourth touchdown
return in four games, breaking his own NFL record and continuing
his run as the league's most electrifying player.
It came with a little more than eight minutes left, and kept the
Chiefs unbeaten in five games while the Broncos fell to 4-1.
"If you're asking me if there was a clip, yeah, there was a
clip," said Denver coach Mike Shanahan. "It doesn't take a
football genius to figure that one out, especially looking at it on
"But officials aren't 100 percent, just like our players aren't
100 percent. Some things get by them and other things don't."
Shanahan agreed with Vermeil that clipping is common on returns.
"But these things do happen and you've got to find a way to get
it done," he said.
Vermeil said that viewed from the sideline camera, "the hit is
definitely a hit in the back. When you get a chance to look at it
from the end zone, you'll see it's right on the shoulder not right
on the back."
Despite the non-call, Hall's incredible return might stand as
the most memorable play of the season.
The Chiefs were going for a block and did not even have a return
on, and instead of catching the ball inside the 10-yard line, Hall
was supposed to let it bounce into the end zone.
But Hall caught the ball. First he darted one way, then the
other, eluding the first few Broncos to reach him. Then he
stutter-stepped as tacklers closed in. Then he turned and ran back
toward the end zone.
"I thought, `What are you doing? You're about to run into the
end zone and get a safety," said Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks.
"Then I realized who I was talking about and I hushed my mouth. He
Leaving most of the Broncos bunched in the middle of the field
near the goal line, the 5-foot-8 Hall looped back to his left,
where a convoy of blockers awaited to escort him past the only
opponent left between him and a touchdown -- punter Micah Knorr.
The last 20 yards, Hall jogged into the end zone before 80,000
"I've never seen a guy do it better," said Vermeil. "Eighty
percent of that was on his own."
Chiefs players say that one thing that sets Hall apart is his
uncanny instinct for setting up blocks.
"He's got a sixth sense about him. He feels the game," said
Mike Maslowski, who made the final block on Knorr. "He feels where
his blocks are coming from and he commits to it when he sets it up
With 11 regular-season games remaining, Hall has already tied
the NFL's single-season record of four touchdown returns, last done
by Denver's Rick Upchurch in the mid-70s.
"He's as good as I've seen in 14 years of being in the
league," said Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe.
As his stardom increases, Hall remains popular with teammates.
He is always quick to share credit.
"What can I say? I'm truly blessed right now," he said. "It's
a combination of my teammates and their downfield blocking and
sticking with the play longer than their opponents. It was a total