Returning kicks or punts is an art. Some can, but most can’t. Returning kicks in the modern day, with touchbacks now putting teams at the 25 instead of the 20-yard-line has only made making an impact on special teams that much more difficult.
Cordarrelle Patterson doesn’t buy into any of that crap. The Atlanta Falcons runner/receiver/returner has become an absolute legend and a surefire bet to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His latest effort perhaps seals the deal, ensuring the former first-round pick a gold jacket.
Cordarrelle Patterson now has most kick return touchdowns in NFL history
Patterson already holds at least one NFL record, tying for the longest kick return in history with a 109-yard dash back in his rookie season. That was cool, but in that case, he’s among a group of other record-holders.
Holding a record all by himself? That’s a much more impressive feat, and one Patterson has been working toward for 10 NFL seasons.
On Sunday in Week 11 against Chicago, Patterson once again took the wind out of the opposing team’s sails by going untouched on a 103-yard kick return touchdown.
It is the ninth kick return touchdown in Patterson’s career, which places him in first place in NFL history. Patterson came into the matchup tied with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington, who had eight career kick return touchdowns.
Patterson also entered the day with a 29.4 career kick return average, which ranks third all-time. We won’t do the math, but it’s safe to say his career average is ticking up. Gale Sayers holds the all-time mark at 30.6 yards per return.
Cordarrelle Patterson: An unexpected GOAT
Patterson’s career has been a rollercoaster. The Minnesota Vikings initially drafted him 29th overall back in 2013, hoping he could spark a struggling passing offense lacking a 1,000-yard receiver.
While he never quite came close to solving their offensive woes, he immediately made an impact on kick returns. “Flash” took two kicks to the house as a rookie and added three more in his next three seasons. Despite his undeniable impact on special teams, Patterson wasn’t retained for a second contract and then bounced around. First, with the Raiders, where he received just 44 touches, before landing with the Patriots.
It was in New England where Patterson was tried as a rusher out of the backfield first. This would spark interest in the player league-wide. Patterson then landed with Chicago for the next two seasons before departing for Atlanta, where he’s been for the past two seasons.
Throughout all his travels, Patterson has never topped 548 receiving yards, but he did manage 618 rushing yards with the Falcons a season ago as their starting running back. In fact, both 548 for receiving and 618 for rushing are his career highs thus far.
Patterson has now scored a kick return touchdown for four of the five franchises he’s played for.
Mostly, Patterson is at his best when returning kicks, where there hasn’t been a more explosive player who’s been able to stick around for as long as Patterson has. He may not be a top receiver or a top runner, but when it comes to returning kicks, Patterson is the GOAT. Who saw that one coming?