Cordarrelle Patterson considered crying when he reached the end zone on Sunday afternoon. Then he saw his Atlanta Falcons teammates racing toward him to celebrate, and those emotions faded quickly.
Patterson had earned a living as a special teams hero in the NFL. His 103-yard return in the second quarter of the Falcons’ 27-24 victory over the Chicago Bears tied the all-time record for kick return touchdowns.
It was his ninth kick return for a touchdown. “I was trying not to cry,” Patterson explained. “They wouldn’t let me do it. It was enjoyable.”
The touchdown broke a tie he shared with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. All of whom had eight kick return touchdowns in their careers.
Patterson and his record-breaking return
Patterson began his record-breaking return at the “A” in Atlanta’s end zone, took it out of the end zone and up the middle of the field, and received a vital block from Troy Andersen as he went through Chicago’s coverage.
He rushed the rest of the way after running between Bears kicker Cairo Santos and defensive back Elijah Hicks at the Falcons’ 45-yard line when he realised he had a chance at the score.
At the Chicago 5-yard line, Hicks almost tackled him from behind, but his diving attempt just missed Patterson.
“I was on the sideline asking several folks, ‘Who was this guy?'” “He was about ten yards back, this tiny [person] is quick,” Patterson added. “Thank God he didn’t get me, guy.” He did a terrific job of luring me in.
“The rest, man, is history.”
Patterson expects to see many more returns for the rest of the season
Patterson was astonished that Chicago, one of his previous teams, kicked to him and said he wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t see many more returns the rest of the season.
Patterson said after the game that it hadn’t hit him yet, but that it will when he met his family later that day – and that the ball would most likely end up going to his children.
After the game, he briefly spoke with quarterback Marcus Mariota before exiting the locker room, cradling the record-breaking ball in his right hand.
Patterson had fumbled on a run earlier in the game, giving the ball over. The blunder worried him.
He sprinted annoyed the next time he touched the ball as if he wanted to make amends for his error.
It became an NFL record
“It’s really nice when a player breaks an NFL record,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith remarked.
Patterson’s first touchdown kick return came in 2020 when he led the league in kick returns (35), return yardage (1,017), longest return (104 yards), and touchdowns (one).
“Honestly, man,” Patterson remarked, “I’m still playing, and I’ve got a lot of years left.” “I’m not even thinking about the Hall of Fame, man. Devin Hester deservingly belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I’m just aiming to be as good as him.”
No one has done it better in kick returns than Patterson.