Earlier this week I was writing about the Rams’ shocking upset of the Colts, which turned on three huge plays from rookie Tavon Austin, one of which was a 98-yard punt return touchdown. And I asked myself, “what the hell is more exciting in a football game than a punt return touchdown?”
Well, I thought about it, and I didn’t come up with very much. A last second Hail Mary when you’re down by six? A 100+ yard pick six when you’re down six? That’s about it.
In any case, I don’t know if punt return TDs are the most exciting plays, but they’re certainly not easy to top. So for today I thought, why not a list of punt return GIFs?
And so here we are. Ready to take a look? Then let’s go…
Fresh of back-to-back National Championships, the Alabama Crimson Tide kicked off their 2013 season in style. The first time they touched the ball on offense this season, Christion Jones ran a punt back 72 yards for a touchdown against Virginia Tech.
Talk about a statement.
21. Hell of a Start
Last Saturday, the USC Trojans tied an NCAA record by scoring three punt return TDs against the Cal Golden Bears. In the first half.
This one, a 93-yarder by Nelson Agholor, was the third.
I guess Cal just started turning the ball over on downs after that.
20. The Hat Trick
Seriously, Buffalo, does anyone want to try to tackle this guy? No? Okay then. Touchdown.
No offense to T.Y. Hilton. Punt return touchdowns are never easy. But some are easier.
19. Oh Bills
Speaking of hapless defenses...how about those Giants? Again, no offense to Marcus Sherels, but, there isn't a whole lot of opposition here.
18. Oh Giants
Fat guy touchdowns are cool. They usually happen when a lineman recovers a fumble. But a fat guy punt return? That takes one hell of a sh**ty punt.
Nice work, Gamecocks.
(Okay, fine. South Carolina did win the game.)
17. Fat Guy Punt Return!
If Texas had lost the Red River Shootout this year, Mack Brown might have been on the hot seat. Instead, the Longhorns pounded the rival Sooners, thanks in large part to this 85-yard punt return from Daje Johnson midway through the third quarter that made it 29-13.
16. Red River Return
Of course, Johnson had a little bit of help from the Oklahoma special teams on that one. Punter Jed Barnett certainly didn't make a great effort to tackle him.
15. Red River Return: Second Look
Yep, that's right. The Jets actually forgot to send somebody back to take the punt—a bold strategy.
Obviously, this was not the game in which the Jets actually beat the Patriots.
14. Here's How the Jets Do Punt Returns
Look at all that purple! Everybody was right there, but they didn't converge.
Of course, this was the preseason, and Baltimore fans probably thought their guys just needed to work out the kinks. Who knew this would actually be a sign of things to come for the defending champs?
13. Right Through Everybody
At least the Ravens learned something from that last one. Returner Tandon Doss scored this 82-yarder doing basically the same thing the Panthers did to them.
12. Right Through Everybody: the Sequel
The Broncos may have suffered a shocking defeat to the Ravens last year, but hey, at least Holiday scored this great 90-yard punt return TD, right?
11. Trindon Holiday
Micah Hyde gets the glory here, but you have to give credit to the Packers special teams, too. They tie up every guy in purple creating a path, and Hyde spotted it and took advantage.
10. Up the Gut
Harris scored a touchdown on this beautiful run, but he also helped set up a touchdown later with a 90-yard kickoff return. So he had a pretty good game the first time the 'Boys played the Redskins this year.
9. Dwayne Harris, Everyone
Last year, Travis Benjamin scorched the Chiefs with this 93-yard punt return TD...
8. Travis Benjamin, Part 1
This year, he did it to the Bills. Though it wasn't 93 yards. Just 79.
7. Travis Benjamin, Part 2
Usually things look better in slow-motion. However, in this case, it definitely looks better in fast-motion.
6. Zig Zag
Here's the 98-yarder from Tavon Austin I mentioned at the outset. Notice how excellent this punt it, and how, as a result, Austin is waiving everyone off, telling them not to touch the ball. Then he's like, you know what, I can get that. And before anyone knows it he's halfway down the field.
It probably gave Rams coach Jeff Fisher a heart attack, but in the end I'm sure he didn't mind.
5. Rewarded for the Risk
Dexter McCluster puts on a beautiful display, here. That being said, it's not very hard to embarrass the Giants defense/special teams.
4. Dexter McCluster Embarrasses the Giants
Golden Tate didn't actually score on this play, but his 71-yard return is probably still the best one we've seen all year.
3. Golden Tate Dazzles
Nice tackling, Missouri.
No, really, why don't you just let Ace Sanders run right on up and gently place the ball over the goal line?
2. Great Gamecock
Devin Hester is my pick for best punt returner in the NFL today. Who's yours?
1. Devin Hester
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