Hobbs opens second half with record 108-yard TD return for Pats

Updated: September 9, 2007, 6:28 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ellis Hobbs was 25 yards from the end zone during his record-breaking kickoff return when he peeked at the video screen on the Meadowlands scoreboard.

"I'm not going to lie. I looked up," the New England returner said with a big grin. "When you know you're out of danger and guys behind you are blocking, there's nothing wrong with a little showtime."

Hobbs set an NFL record by taking the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown Sunday in the Patriots' 38-14 victory over the New York Jets.

The play also tied the record for the longest in NFL history, matching the 108-yard missed field goal returns by Chicago's Devin Hester last season against the Giants, and the Bears' Nathan Vasher the previous season against San Francisco.

"I just kept moving forward," said Hobbs, who scored on a kickoff return for the first time in his three-year career. "When you start going, you can feel it opening up more and more. You just want to head for that end zone. I always try to find that sixth or seventh gear, the gear they don't even make."

With many of the fans at Giants Stadium still returning to their seats from the halftime break, Hobbs caught Mike Nugent's kickoff deep in the end zone and surprisingly ran it out.

I'm not going to lie. I looked up. When you know you're out of danger and guys behind you are blocking, there's nothing wrong with a little showtime.

Ellis Hobbs

"It was one of those deals that when he started to run, you yell: 'No! No! No! ... Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"' Patriots receiver Wes Welker said.

Hobbs made a few cuts to the left sideline and took off untouched down the sideline and into the end zone to give New England a 21-7 lead 14 seconds into the third quarter.

"I didn't even think about kneeling that ball," Hobbs said. "We're taking them all out. They pay me to make plays. They don't pay me to take knees. This isn't college. This isn't high school. We're in the NFL. They pay me to return the ball and guys in front of me to block. Why not give them something to celebrate and enjoy?"

The previous record for longest kickoff return was 106 yards, held by three players: Green Bay's Al Carmichael in 1966, Kansas City's Nolan Smith in 1967, and Roy Green of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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