NFL kick returners on pace for touchdowns mark Print
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Thursday, 29 November 2007 09:23
NFL Headline News

 Kickoff returners, led by the New York Jets' Leon Washington, already have tied an NFL record with 18 touchdowns. The mark was established in 1998.
Washington is one of 14 players who have gone the distance with kickoffs. One was an unlikely returner: 258-pound tight end Casey Fitzsimmons, who took an onside kick against Chicago 41 yards for a score on Sept. 30.
For the Jets, Washington has been a rare offensive weapon. He went 98 yards to score in Game 3, a win over Miami. He also went 98 yards on Oct. 7 against the Giants in a loss, and covered 86 yards in a loss to the Redskins on Nov. 4. The record for one season is four.
The amazing Devin Hester has three punt runbacks for TDs for Chicago, along with two kickoff returns. He had an 88-yarder last Sunday against Denver in a game when he also had a 75-yard punt runback for a score. Hester went 97 yards with a kickoff on Sept. 30, the same game in which Fitzsimmons got his touchdown.
Also with multiple touchdowns is Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs. He victimized Oakland for 99 yards on Sept. 23 and Pittsburgh for 100 yards on Nov. 11. But the Browns lost both games.
Ellis Hobbs of the Patriots had the longest return, 108 yards against the Jets on opening day. Hobbs set a record for longest KO return in NFL history to start the second half of a New England win.
The other TDs were scored by Houston's Jerome Mathis, 84 yards on Sept. 23 vs. Indianapolis; Pittsburgh's Allen Rossum, 98 yards on the same day vs. San Francisco; Buffalo's Terrence McGee, 103 yards vs. Dallas on Oct. 8; New England's Willie Andrews, 77 yards on Oct. 21 vs. Miami; Seattle's Nate Burleson, 91 yards the same day vs. St. Louis; Cincinnati's Glenn Holt, 100 yards on Nov. 4 vs. Buffalo; Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, 100 yards on the same day vs. New Orleans; San Diego's Darren Sproles, 89 yards on Nov. 11 vs. Indianapolis; and Seattle's Josh Wilson, 89 yards last Sunday vs. St. Louis.
Sproles also had a 45-yard punt return for a TD against the Colts for his first two NFL touchdowns.
The record for kickoff and punt returns for TDs combined is 39 in 2002. There have been 31 so far, with 13 on punts.
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TELL US YOUR STORY: Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin confesses to getting lost on his way to the first minicamp and arriving with two minutes to spare, drenched in sweat.
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck describes the first time he received fan mail, only to discover it was from someone who wanted Hasselbeck to get him an autograph from Brett Favre.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten admits he neglected to bring doughnuts to a team meeting, causing the offensive line to tie him to the goal post and pour ice on him.
Great moments in NFL history? Not quite.
They are among the stories players are providing to NFL Films as part of a Super Bowl ad campaign. One of 48 such stories will become the focal point of ``Super Ad: Who Wants It More?'' The winner, determined by a fan vote and a panel of judges, will become the inspiration for a commercial seen during the Super Bowl in February.
Dozens of players have participated already, ranging from Ravens veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason to Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson, and from Hasselbeck to his receiver Nate Burleson.
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OWNER INVOLVEMENT?: After the Detroit Lions threw the ball to receiver Calvin Johnson more on Thanksgiving than they had all season, a report surfaced that owner William Clay Ford instructed the coaches to get the rookie the ball more.
Rod Marinelli bristled at the notion.
``It's a lie,'' Detroit's second-year coach said. ``There are only two people that talk to Mr. Ford: Matt (Millen) and myself.''
Marinelli said he talks to Ford every third week, including last week, but that conversation had nothing to do with the obvious plan to attempt more passes in Johnson's direction.
``That was about as healthy as we felt he was,'' Marinelli explained. ``He's had some big games for us when he's been healthy. So we went to him.''
Johnson set season highs with seven catches and 83 yards receiving and scored in the loss to Green Bay. He also dropped a few passes, costing him and the Lions a lot of yards and perhaps another touchdown.
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M coach Mike Sherman says technology makes it easier to juggle recruiting for the Aggies and his duties as offensive coordinator of the Texans.
M's coach on Monday, but will remain in his current position with the Texans until the end of the season.
``These teenagers are tough to track down a lot of the time,'' he said. ``Fortunately, they have cell phones and you can get them a little later than you would normally call someone's house. So they're usually up. I would never call somebody's house after 10 in the old days, but these kids, you can call them a little bit later than that because of the cell phone.''
Sherman, who is in his second year in Houston, said having two jobs is challenging, but he felt strongly about finishing the season with the Texans.
``I would feel funny if I left,'' Sherman said. ``I wouldn't feel comfortable if I had left the team and it's important that I stay. And I want to stay. I want to see this through.''
He thinks his time in Green Bay when he was head coach and general manager prepared him for this challenge.
``You're doing a lot of things during the course of the day to try to wear both hats and do the very best job you can,'' he said. ``At the end of the day you just hope you did all you could that day and then you go get up and do it the next day.''
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SOD SAGA: Mike Holmgren has some interest in new sod fields because his Seahawks are playing in Philadelphia on what will be a new field Sunday.
The veteran coach and former member of the league's competition committee saw Monday night's mess in the rain on a newly laid field in Pittsburgh and shook his head.
``Boy, it was bad,'' he said of the Steelers' 3-0 win over Miami.
Not all of Holmgren's experience with new turf is bad, though. He didn't know the Eagles were putting in new grass, but said he doesn't believe there is a competitive issue from teams unilaterally deciding to replace their fields - with perhaps a notice to the league - days before a game.
He recalled the NFC championship on Jan. 12, 1997, at Lambeau Field between his Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers. The field had disintegrated during the previous week's win over San Francisco.
``There was no grass left, and it just wiped out,'' Holmgren said.
Workers labored day and night beginning the Monday before the Sunday title game installing new sod, hardly a simple task in the middle of winter in Green Bay.
``They came in and did that field in five days and it was eerie because in the night, it would be 3 in the morning, there were just trucks,'' he said. ``It was like 'Close Encounters of the Something.' You had this thing going on in the stadium and the lights were on.
``And it was a great field. At the time, I remember Bill Polian was the (general manager) in Carolina. He was stunned that it was so good because that day it was really cold, it was below zero, (but) we had a good surface.''
As Holmgren said, comparing that experience and the one he hopes to have Sunday in Philadelphia to the Pittsburgh quagmire: ``So sometimes they do a good job of that. Sometimes, it's not so good.''
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AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Gregg Bell in Seattle, Larry Lage in Detroit and Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this story.
 

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