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Inside Slant: Patterson makes history in loss

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Cordarrelle Patterson secured a spot in NFL history Monday night.

To start the second half, Patterson caught the kickoff deep in his own end zone, found a seam and flew 104 yards for the Bears' only touchdown of the game.

With his play Monday night, Patterson is now tied with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington for the most kickoffs returned for a touchdown over the course of his career with eight. The three-time All-Pro's TD also etched his name into the Bears' history books. His return set a new franchise record for longest kick return, passing Gale Sayers' 103-yard mark set in 1967.

"I've just gotta give it up to those 10 guys that was blocking for me," said Patterson. "Man, they did a heck of a job. We work it every week, man, every week at practice. Every time we get the ball, we want to go out on [the] kickoff return and score. Those boys did a heck of a job. They had a lane open for me that no way I could have missed. Got through it and got the touchdown."

Patterson's return seemed to push momentum in the Bears' favor. According to safety Eddie Jackson, a feeling of confidence had taken the sideline before the ball even reached Patterson's hands.

"That was a game-changer," said Jackson, "a momentum-changer for sure for us. It's so crazy because [assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly] called out on the sideline, 'If they kick it to 84, it's going to the house.' So that made it a more special moment."

As was the case when he last returned a kick for a touchdown—during a 36-25 loss to the New Orleans Saints in 2019—Patterson's play ended up being the high-water mark for the Bears on the day. The offense failed to gain a first down on the next four drives, and a 13-7 lead slowly gave way to the 19-13 final score.

With running back David Montgomery out, Patterson played a larger role in the offense, rushing for 30 yards on 12 carries and catching two passes for 19 yards. In a day where the offense struggled to move the ball, Patterson accounted for nearly a third of offensive production.

"Honestly, that just means I need to do more," said Patterson. "I hold myself accountable to go out there every time and score touchdowns, so I've gotta do more for my team and get my team in better situations and score a touchdown every time I touch the ball."

Even before Montgomery's injury, Patterson has seen an increase in his usage. In the first 10 games of the season, he has more than doubled his combined carries and catches from a year ago, going from 28 to 60. The offseason project to convert him from a wide receiver to an all-purpose running back appears to be complete.

"It's football," said Patterson. "It's something I've been doing my whole life. When my number is called, I just have to go out there and try to make a play for my team."

Patterson's prolific return may benefit the Bears in games to come. After his touchdown, the Vikings opted to kick short. Since Patterson has shown a willingness to take the ball out deep in the end zone, opposing kickers may continue to cede field position to avoid the chance of another long return.

While that might be good for the Bears, that isn't Patterson's goal.

"Every time I touch the ball, my only goal is to score," said Patterson. "It's nothing less than to score a touchdown and help my team out."

Patterson's skillset has tantalized and befuddled teams since the Vikings selected him in the first round in 2013. However, his teammates believe that he's made good on his potential since arriving in Chicago in 2019.

"Just to see him do the things he's been doing since he came over here, he's an athlete," said Jackson. [The coaches] can put him at running back, receiver, kick return, punt return or whatever. But he came through in a time when we really needed him."

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