Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson was never on the field at the same time as Bears' returner Devin Hester, yet the two explosive specialists had one of the fiercest battles on Sunday.
“I was coming into the game and thinking about him," Patterson said. "Every time he touches the ball it motivated me to get a good drive. I see him take it every time and it just motivated me to bring it out and keep doing it and to keep fighting.”
Minnesota's first round draft pick set a Soldier Field record when he returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings an early advantage.
According to Patterson, the first 50 yards were easier than the last 55, “I saw a big hole. No way I could’ve missed it. I ran right through it. It was a touchdown.”
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So what was running through the talented rookie's head that made the return harder as it progressed?
“Just beat the kicker,” Patterson said. “I wanted to cut in on him, but I didn’t want the kicker to tackle me. I just made up my mind he was going to have to outrun me and tackle me."
Patterson finished the game with three returns for 149 yards, but somehow Hester was the one who had impacted the game the most.
“He’s the best in the business at doing it,” Patterson said. “I respect him. I tip my hat off to him. He did a good job. He had about 300 yards today, you seen he is an explosive guy.”
Hester didn't quite reach 300, but he did break his own franchise record for an individual game with 249 kickoff return yards, on just five attempts. It may be premature to compare Patterson to Hester, but the first-year Viking would love nothing more than to become the NFL's best returner.
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“I can pray that it happens, but if it don’t happen I got to settle for what I got.”
In Sunday's 31-30 loss to the Bears, Patterson got his first touchdown, but also his second defeat in as many games. A fact that will keep the 22-year-old just as hungry as the championship-starved Hester is at age 30.