The Patrick Peterson punt return was amazing. He has two game-winning punt returns this season, when the Cards’ last game-winning punt return was back in 1980 by Roy Green (against the Lions 12/7/80). Now he has three punt returns for touchdowns. Heck, before this season, the Cardinals had just two punt returns for touchdowns the entire time they had been in Arizona. Steve Breaston against the Steelers in 2007, and Johnny Bailey against the Redskins in 1993.
What would have been nice is if Peterson had set the record for longest punt return in NFL history. When I heard it was 99 yards, I immediately thought he had — after all, if a punt goes in the end zone, the play is dead right?
Well, a player can still catch the ball clean in the end zone and bring it out, so in theory, Peterson could add another 10 yards to his high-water mark (although my guess is, as much as you are stepping over the line to field a ball inside the 10, you’d really be doing it that deep in the end zone). If the ball bounces in the end zone, it’d be a dead ball. But that rule wasn’t in play in 1994, when Robert Bailey of the Rams returned a punt 103 yards for a score for the NFL mark.
But when you watch the video, it certainly doesn’t have any of the panache of Peterson’s runback. Bailey’s record-setter was all about being aware when the rest of the players weren’t. Bailey’s return started when the ball bounced into the end zone a couple of times and looked like it was headed out of bounds. Both teams started walking off the field. Most of the Saints — the game was in New Orleans — have their back to the play when Bailey scoops up the ball and races for a touchdown.
(Interesting side note: Cards quarterback coach Chris Miller was the Rams QB that day. Had no recollection of it at first until his memory is jogged.)
Everybody is fooled. Even the clock is stopped and the play-by-play guy calls it a touchback.
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Robert Bailey
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