That kind of day: Bears’ Velus Jones good, Falcons’ Cordarrelle Patterson great
Jones, after a two-game benching, sparked the Bears with a 55-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. But Patterson responded with a record-setting 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second.
ATLANTA — Bears rookie Velus Jones always thinks he’s the best player on the football field with the ball in his hands. And for a while in the Bears’ 27-24 loss Sunday to the Falcons, he was.
But only for a while.
Not long after Jones reversed the Falcons’ first-series momentum with a 55-yard kickoff return that set up a Bears touchdown drive — a burst of redemption after being a healthy scratch the previous two games — Cordarrelle Patterson showed him how it’s done.
After the Bears had parlayed Jones’ return into 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, Patterson took the ensuing kickoff in the end zone, accelerated through a seam in the Bears’ coverage, easily scooted through a tackle attempt by Matt Adams and shook off Elijah Hicks’ last-gasp dive at the 5-yard line for a 103-yard kickoff return.
It was Patterson’s ninth career kickoff return for a touchdown, breaking a tie with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington for the NFL record.
‘‘Man, he’s a great returner — most likely a future Hall of Famer,’’ said Jones, who talked with Patterson after the game and is hoping to snare a game jersey from him. ‘‘Watching that guy, he’s dynamic. He’s a playmaker in any phase of the game. He can turn a game around, as you’ve seen. It was just a blessing to talk to him after the game. Hopefully [in the] offseason I’ll pick his brain. He can probably give me some knowledge in the return game.’’
It was Patterson’s third touchdown in 16 career kickoff returns against the Bears. He also had two for the Bears in 2019-20 before signing with the Falcons.
‘‘First and foremost, I have to give it out to the 10 guys out there that were blocking for me,’’ Patterson said, ‘‘because it would be impossible to do it without those guys. They did a great job. There’s no way I would have seen that hole. Anyone could have gotten to that hole.’’
Patterson’s history-making touchdown reversed the fortunes of the Bears’ special-teams units. Before that, not only had Jones sparked the Bears with his kickoff return, but DeAndre Houston-Carson had forced a fumble by punt returner Avery Williams in the first quarter, with Jack Sanborn recovering at the Falcons’ 41. Williams initially was ruled down, but the call was overturned upon replay review. Everything was going the Bears way at that point.
The Bears’ day turned around after Patterson’s kickoff return for a touchdown. But Jones’ return on his first touch after being benched for two games was a sign of hope that the struggling rookie still might emerge as a threat not only on special teams but eventually on offense.
‘‘I have all the confidence in the world in myself,’’ Jones said. ‘‘I know who I am. I know I’m special with the ball in my hands. And that’s hasn’t changed for all the adversity I faced this season of being a healthy scratch. When your number’s called, make a play. That’s it. That’s in the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. Just moving forward.’’
And he still has big dreams, like someday catching up to Patterson.
‘‘Little does he know I was 120-something yards from breaking his all-purpose [yardage] record at Tennessee,’’ Jones said. ‘‘I was second at Tennessee. He was first, but I definitely should have beaten him. I should be sitting on that throne. But it’s all good. It’s better this way.’’
That Patterson one-upped him again Sunday only inspired Jones.
‘‘I’m really confident in myself,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ll be around for a while. I’m going to go after his records in the league.’’