Cordarrelle Patterson breaks NFL record with 9th career kickoff returned for touchdown

Cordarrelle Patterson entered Sunday in a three-way tie for the most kickoff-return touchdowns in NFL history. Now the record is all his own.

During the second quarter against the Chicago Bears, Patterson fielded a kickoff from the end zone. He knifed through a group of would-be Bears tacklers near the 30-yard line then broke free near midfield. Nobody was catching him from there.

Patterson returned the kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to cut Atlanta's deficit to 17-14 in a 27-24 Falcons win. The touchdown was the ninth of his career on a kickoff return, the most in NFL history. The score broke a tie with Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs, who both retired with eight.

The score was a nice bit of makeup work for Patterson, who fumbled on the first play of the previous Falcons possession. The turnover deep in Chicago territory set the Bears up for a 28-yard touchdown drive capped by a Justin Fields touchdown run. His score on the kickoff kept the Falcons within a possession of the Bears.

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs the ball back on a kickoff against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Atlanta. Patterson scored a touchdown on the play. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Cordarrelle Patterson remains an elite playmaker. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Patterson, 31, hasn't had much chance to shine this season on a Falcons offense that ranks 27th in the NFL. But he remains a dangerous weapon, having entered Sunday with 402 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry and a team-best five touchdowns on the ground.

A six-time All-Pro, he remains a threat to break free any time he touches the ball. His score on Sunday proved to be the difference in the game.