A kick return-touchdown is one of the most dynamic plays in the NFL. One score can quickly shift the momentum of a game.
"It's an answer," says Cleveland Browns kick returner-wide receiver JOSHUA CRIBBS, who has 10 career combined kick return-touchdowns, including an NFL-record eight career kickoff return-touchdowns. "A kick return-touchdown brings momentum in your favor because their offense just scored, so they are kicking it off to you. For you to answer right back, it gives them the feeling that they have to score again, which shifts the momentum to you."
Buffalo Bills rookie kick returner-running back C.J. SPILLER, who registered a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown in Week 3, certainly agrees.
"It brings a lot of excitement," says Spiller. "The main thing you're trying to do is get field position for your offense, and trying to swing the momentum for your team. I think that's why returners can be known as game-changers."
Through four weeks of the 2010 NFL season, there have been 11 combined kick return touchdowns (8 KR, 3 PR). The 11 total kick return touchdowns can challenge for the most combined kick return-touchdowns through the first five weeks of a season since 1970:
MOST COMBINED KICK RETURN TDs THROUGH 1ST FIVE WEEKS
*Through Week 4
Among the keys to being a great returner are speed, quickness, instincts and a good special teams unit.
"If you have great blockers and everybody is on the same page, it makes the return guys, job a whole lot easier," says Spiller.
New York Jets special teams coordinator MIKE WESTHOFF knows the necessity of a good return unit. Westhoff is now in his 10th season with the Jets and has led a consistently productive return unit on special teams during his tenure.
"A good return specialist is really a must in the NFL today," says Westhoff. "There are some great return specialists in the NFL that contribute to teams winning and losing, particularly teams winning every single week. You are very blessed if you've got one, and if you don't, you better get one, because most teams do."
A look at the teams with the most combined kick return touchdowns since 2000:
COMBINED KICK RETURN TDs
New York Jets