Patriots

Ranking the six longest punt return touchdowns in NFL history

Patriots

Week 14 saw one of the longest punt return touchdowns in NFL history. 

In the second quarter of Sunday Night Football, Jakeem Grant of the Chicago Bears fielded a punt from Green Bay Packers punter Corey Bojorquez at his own three-yard line. After the right side of the field wasn’t open, Grant cut back to the left and took it 97 yards to the house

Grant’s electric house call is the longest punt return for a touchdown in Bears history, surpassing Johnny Bailey’s 95-yard return in 1990. He is now tied for the ninth-longest punt return touchdown in NFL history with Bryan McCann and Greg Pruitt, who took a punt 97 yards for the score for the Cowboys and Raiders, respectively. 

Here is a look at some of the longest punt returns taken all the way. 

 

Robert Bailey’s unique 103-yard return for the Rams

Back in 1994, a punt was not immediately ruled a touchback once it hit the end zone. So when the New Orleans Saints punted the ball into the Rams’ end zone, it bounced twice, nearly out of bounds, but no one touched it. 

While the Saints’ special teams unit began walking off the field, Bailey scooped up the ball and took it 103 yards for the touchdown. 

Bailey, not even a regular punt returner, holds a record that likely will never be broken. 

Dwayne Harris smartly picks up loose ball and goes 99 yards

Veteran return specialist Dwayne Harris didn’t get his 99-yard punt return touchdown in normal fashion. 

In a game in 2018 between the then-Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos, the Broncos punted it down near the goal line. The Broncos special teamers dove to keep the ball out of the end zone, but no one downed the ball so the play was still alive. 

Harris smartly scooped up the ball and took it back 99 yards for the score. 

Patrick Peterson wins game in OT with 99-yard return

A 99-yard punt return is impressive enough. How about one to win the game?

In 2011, Patrick Peterson took a punt with his heels nearly in his end zone, but broke through multiple tackles to give the Arizona Cardinals the overtime win. 

Tavon Austin sprints along sideline for 98-yard touchdown

Tavon Austin’s punt return ability is well known throughout the league. He has three punt returns for touchdowns in his career.

But his most impressive came as a rookie in 2011 with the Rams, returning a Pat McAfee punt 98 yards to the house

Damaris Johnson goes 98 yards in final minute

The 2012 game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys was essentially over when the Cowboys punted to Damaris Johnson with less than a minute left and up by 11. 

However Johnson had other ideas. Rather than letting the offense try and drive down for a touchdown, he took it himself, going 98 yards into the end zone

 

Johnson and Austin are two of five players who have taken punts back for 98 yards. Terance Mathis did it with the New York Jets in 1990, Dennis Morgan with the Cowboys in 1974 and Charlie West in 1968 with the Minnesota Vikings.