Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Ross has huge day for Detroit in loss
By Michael Rothstein
PHILADELPHIA -- In the mass of snow where players couldn’t cut and the surface was more ice rink than football field, it did not seem to matter much to Detroit Lions returner Jeremy Ross.
If anything, the slip-and-slide surface almost helped him as he had one of the best days of his career.
Jeremy Ross scored and a 58-yard punt return and a 98-yard kickoff return in Detroit's loss on Sunday.
"Players start to slip just because they get too wide, cut too wide," Ross said. "I try to keep everything in tight and narrow and not overextend. Just keep my feet underneath me."
That wasn’t easy considering the playing field at Lincoln Financial Field, but Ross was able to keep his balance enough to return both a punt and a kick for touchdowns Sunday in the Lions’ 34-20 loss and in the process matched a little bit of history.
Ross became the second Detroit Lions player to return a punt and kick for touchdowns in the same game, matching Eddie Payton -- the brother of Walter Payton -- who accomplished the same feat for the Lions in 1977.
Even more impressive was Ross did it on an increasingly difficult place to run on.
"After a while the snow started hardening up," Ross said. "The snow kept clogging up at the bottom of my cleats so it felt like I had heels on at some point. It would pile up, stack real tight on the bottom of my heels so my foot would be like lifted up.
"Sometimes you have to keep patting your feet because it just packs in there and it’s hard to run, change directions, so it really gets underneath your feet."
Ross also had some help. On both returns he was assisted by some major blocking.
Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, who like Ross was a midseason signing for the Lions after being cut by another team, blocked Brandon Boykin enough on the outside that it gave Ross the initial crease he needed.
From there, almost in slow motion, Ross weaved his way to the end zone for a 58-yard punt return touchdown, not cutting so much as just bobbing his body side-to-side as he ran.
"When you’re running, you’re real cautious of how you cut and stuff," Ross said. "You feel like you’re just trying to turn, you can’t really cut. You’re just kind of slowly working your way around."
His kick return was a little bit easier in some ways. Ross caught the ball at the 2-yard line and had almost a perfect hole form for him -- again, due to blocking. Theo Riddick was his lead blocker and sealed off a guy on the right side, as did new signee Julian Stanford. On the left side, Israel Idonije appeared to seal off his man, giving Ross the hole.
From there, all Ross needed to do was make a diving Alex Henery miss -- he did -- and keep his balance heading into the end zone.
In all, Ross had 243 return yards, more yards than the entirety of the Lions offense, and now has three touchdowns -- two on special teams and one receiving -- in the past two weeks.
"It’s definitely, it’s special," Ross said. "It’s special to do something like that."