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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Chasing more return touchdowns in Week 2

By Mike Sando

There were three kickoff returns of 103 yards or longer in 256 NFL games last season.

There were two during 16 games in Week 1 this season, plus Ted Ginn Jr.'s 102-yarder for the San Francisco 49ers.

We're seeing far more touchbacks since the NFL moved kickoffs from the 30- to 35-yard line. That was predictable. The kickoffs that get returned for touchdowns will also be longer, but will there be more total return touchdowns despite far fewer return opportunities overall?

There were more of them in Week 1. Consider:
One week does not make a trend, but the results from Week 1 were interesting. Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin and Ginn accounted for the three kickoff-return touchdowns.

The chart breaks down kickoff return stats for all but onside kicks. The touchback percentage jumped to the highest since at least the 1970 merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

A quick look at the returners NFC West teams are facing in Week 2:
The NFC West has multiple dynamic returners, but the Seahawks' Leon Washington is coming off a rough week, and the Cardinals' LaRod Stephens-Howling has a hand injury. Ginn will be facing a Cowboys coverage team that allowed 19.5 yards per kick return on four returns to the New York Jets.