ATLANTA — Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 103 yards in the second quarter Sunday against the Bears to become the NFL’s all-time kickoff return king.
Patterson’s ninth career kickoff return for a touchdown is an NFL record. He was tied with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington with eight kickoff return touchdowns entering the game, with two coming as a member of the Bears from 2019-20. Neither Cribbs nor Washington has played since 2014.
Patterson caught Cairo Santos’ kick three yards deep into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium end zone with 4:35 left in the first half and returned it up the middle. He wasn’t touched until inside the Bears’ 5, when he was tripped and tumbled into the end zone to go down 17-14.
To celebrate, Patterson took off his helmet and had teammate Olamide Zaccheaus place an imaginary crown on his head.
The Bears were wary of Patterson all week.
“He’s one of the best players to ever do it,” special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said Thursday. “So obviously we have a challenge kicking off there, but it’s a good challenge and I think Cairo is up for the challenge and I like where Cairo is. I mean, I like where he is in his mindset. ...
“Am I worried about Cairo? I’m not. Am I worried about kickoff? I’m not. I’m excited. I’m ready to compete.”