In 2022, there were just six kickoff return touchdowns. That is, on average, one every 170 kicks.
Cordarrelle Patterson was one of those few with a 103-yard kickoff return for the Atlanta Falcons in a thrilling 27-24 win against the Chicago Bears. And this wasn’t his first rodeo, as the running back had already had eight kickoff return TDs.
Granted, it can be exciting to watch a long fumble or interception return. But it sure is an adrenaline rush to see a special teams wizard weave through traffic and score on a kickoff return.
And this brings up the question: What have been the longest kickoff returns in NFL history?
(Hint: The record is held by the guy mentioned above.)
Longest Kickoff Returns in NFL History
1. 109 yards – Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (2013)
In his rookie season, Patterson’s 109-yard run set the record for the longest kickoff return in NFL history. In fact, this is tied for the longest play ever – the same distance as Antonio Cromartie’s and Jamal Agnew’s missed field goal returns. During the first play of the Week 8 game, he went from end zone to end zone, giving the Vikings an early lead against the Green Bay Packers (but they were overpowered by Aaron Rodgers 44-31).
It’s no shock that the running back also has the most kickoff return touchdowns in football history. His ninth broke a tie with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington (eight apiece).
T-2. 108 yards – David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (2015)
Johnson is the most recent returner to tie the 108-yard kickoff return mark, making the list in the second game of his career. Like with Patterson, Johnson’s run happened on the first play of the game. And that same day, he ran for another touchdown, helping the Cardinals rout the Bears 48-23.
T-2. 108 yards – Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens (2012/14)
Impressively enough, Jones is the only player to make the list twice, with two 108-yard returns under his belt. His first came just after halftime in a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 – off a kick from Justin Tucker, who holds the record for the longest field goal in NFL history. And that touchdown was vital, as Baltimore narrowly beat Dallas 31-29. Just two years later, the wide receiver repeated the feat in a 43-23 loss against Ben Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
T-2. 108 yards – Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs (2013)
Though Davis played just three years in the NFL, he made his mark with a 108-yard return in 2013. In a late-season game against the Denver Broncos, Davis’s run gave the Chiefs an early lead. But his speed was not enough to offset the strength of Peyton Manning and the Broncos as his team lost 35-28.
T-2. 108 yards – Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (2011)
In his first career game, Cobb became the second player to return a kick for 108 yards. This Week 1 matchup was a battle of the quarterbacks, with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints against Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. And after Cobb’s kick return in the third quarter, the Packers held a 35-20 advantage – one they held in a 42-34 win.
T-2. 108 yards – Ellis Hobbs, New England Patriots (2007)
In 2007, Hobbs set the then-record for longest kickoff return with a 108-yard run. In a 38-14 win against the New York Jets, Hobbs’ run – off a Stephen Gostkowski kick – added to Tom Brady and the Patriots lead.
T-7. 107 yards – Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles (2014)
T-7. 107 yards – Joe McKnight, New York Jets (2011)
Longest Kickoff Returns in Super Bowl History
1. 108 yards – Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens (2012)
Not only does Jones have two 108-yard kickoff returns in the regular season, but he also holds the NFL record for longest in Super Bowl history. His 108-yard run after halftime extended the Ravens’ lead to 28-6. The San Francisco 49ers nearly came back from the deficit, but the Ravens were able to hold strong and won 34-31.
2. 99 yards (TD) – Desmond Howard, Green Bay Packers (1996)
In 1996, Howard set the record for football’s longest Super Bowl kickoff return, one that stood for over two decades. The Hall-of-Fame return specialist, who ranks ninth all time in return yards, ran for 99 yards late in the third quarter. And the Packers beat the Patriots 35-21 after both teams went scoreless in the fourth.
T-3. 98 yards (TD) – Andrew Coleman, San Diego Chargers (1994)
T-3. 98 yards (TD) – Fulton Walker, Miami Dolphins (1981)
5. 97 yards (TD) – Ron Dixon, New York Giants (2000)
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