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Monday, January 24, 2022

From “Oh no” to “Oh my God, that’s great”: How Jakem Grant’s record-breaking 97-yard punt-return landing unfolded for the Chicago Bears.

Jakim Grant reckons he has watched videos of his 97-yard punt return for touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers “probably a million times” in the past week. Messages from family and friends poured in with replays of the return of the Chicago Bears record, many of which focused on the same theme.

97 yards! But still … 97 yards?

“He definitely has the guts,” Cole Kmet said last week.

Or, as Grant’s friends put it, “Damn, Jake, you have to be crazy to get the courage or the confidence to catch this in the top three and do what you did.”

Grant admitted that it was kind of crazy, but pre-game motivation also played a role. A quick and smart decision was the key to making a comeback, as the longtime teammate had promised. The road was paved with large blocks from the “Bears” special commanders. And then, of course, the speed was cut off.

Twenty-two seconds later, Grant became the owner of the longest return-punt touchdown in Bears history.

Grant, his teammates and Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor this week revealed how it all happened from “Oh No!” to “Wow!” Here is their story to the soundtrack of Bears announcer Jeff Joniak.

“Bohorques is sending him into the air.”

Days before Corey Bohorquez’s pant came off the 50-yard line at Lambo Field on 12 December, Grant wondered what he would do in the return leg.

A week earlier against the Arizona Cardinals, Grant misjudged a punt that was knocked down on the Bears’ 2-yard line and was “sick” by placing an offense in that position. Then, as he prepared by watching a live-action film from a previous Bears-Packers game, Grant decided that he hadn’t scored as many yards as he should have.

“(Tabor) is like:“ Everything is all right ”. And I’m like, “No, coach, I’m not myself.” This is the biggest thing that I have been angry in a long time because I have left many yards in the exit and return of the boat, ”said Grant. “He tried to tell me to calm down, and I thought, ‘I will calm down as soon as I get into the game.’ ”

On top of this motivation, the Bears saw an opportunity to counter the Packers’ struggling special group.

“Because of the Packers’ staff – their panther team was bigger than usual – we felt like we had the advantage in terms of speed,” said Bears defender Marki Christian. “Especially considering that JG is one of the fastest players in the league.”

‘On the opposite side of the field, Jakim Grant finds (3).’

Bear Safety Deon Bush fought a double command against the Equanimeous St. Brown near the left touchline to make sure Grant had enough room to catch the ball, so Bush didn’t realize Grant caught him on the 3-yard line until later in the game. But he was not surprised.

“I know Jakim loves risk,” Bush said. “And I would shoot, I would, too, if I was as fast as he, and fast as he. I was not surprised at all. ”

In October, the Bears traded for Grant for his prowess in the Miami Dolphins comeback, which included three return punt touchdowns and two hitback touchdowns.

Tabor said that Grant’s talent allows him to take risks, as he did against the Packers.

“For normal football fans, they would probably say, ‘Why would you want to catch the ball inside the 5-yard line because I think that’s what everyone is being taught, you know? “- said Tabor. “But in the world of custom teams, if you have a custom, dynamic return, you can expand on it a bit. When he caught the ball, the players were still 15-16 yards away. So if the players are going to be that far away from him, we want to hit the goal. ”

‘Supports him. He’s in big trouble on track 5.

Grant and Damien Williams were teammates with the Dolphins, and when they reunited in the Bears boat return block, Williams received a message for Grant.

“D-Will,” he told me, “just follow him and he will lead me to the promised land,” Grant said.

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When Grant initially caught the ball 7 yards from the 10-yard marker near the left touchline, he saw green grass to his right and took six steps in that direction. Then, when he saw the angle at which several Packers players were approaching him, he said to himself, “Oh no, I can’t run in that direction.”

“So when I suddenly stopped and saw (Williams) through the crack at the Packers, I thought, ‘Oh yes, I’m heading back to the left,” Grant said. “This is someone I can completely trust and I know that he will do his job and he will do whatever he needs to do to be successful.”

Christian rushed to the player and fell to the ground. But when he got up to see Grant changing course, his eyes widened.

“You never know,” Christian said. “It looks like the longest game in football. So, you are just waiting to see how things develop. When I see him walking to the right, I say, “Okay, this might be a bad return.” But as soon as I saw that he dropped his leg and went the other way, I already knew. I saw this.”

“Gets blockers from 10th place. On the 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th. Down to the sides! “

Shortly before Grant ran to the left in a 5-yard line and then turned a corner on the sideline, Bush said he “just kind of felt it.”

“I saw him jumping up a bit, and I was like, ‘You know what, let me get a job because he might come back from around the corner,” Bush said. “We are taught to look for work.”

Bush jumped in front of Packers midfielder Chris Barnes in 18th place when Grant overtook them. Christian was ahead of him, Williams overtook Bohorkes in 35th place, and Christian dashed back to Patrick Taylor in 45th.

“It’s like this desperate thought, ‘Okay, that’s all.’ It’s on me. I’ll do it, it’s over, ”Christian said.

Grant lunged forward, and Christian followed, hands up.

“As soon as I got around it, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is great,” Grant said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the whole path is light. ”

‘And he leaves! 30, 20, 15, 10. End zone! Landing, bears! Wow!’

Grant, who ran a track at a high school in Texas, reached a top speed of 21.33 mph en route to the end zone, according to Next Gen Stats, but he said it wasn’t as fast as he can run because he didn’t. I don’t want his legs to be dead later in the game.

“The only thing I think about is just running at a good speed, fast enough to run past them,” Grant said. “Many people asked, ‘Did you gas it? “You don’t look like you gassed him.” I was just running at a comfortable speed and no one could catch me. ”

He was fast enough to run untouched to the end zone, where he said he started a touchdown dance, but then gave it up to celebrate with the teammates who raced after him.

“Usually I plan (the celebration) for a week, and I get ready for it, and as soon as I get to the end zone, emotions run high, and then, you know, I think, ‘What was I supposed to do? “Do it again?” said Grant.

The celebration continued this week as Grant was named NFC Special Team Player of the Week. The score in the second quarter put the Bears ahead 24-14 with a possible loss of 45-30.

The soccer for the record touchdown will go to his mom, Sylvia, who has all of his control balls. Grant has no doubts that he set a performance record for Devin Hester’s team. Grant said he grew up admiring Hester and uses his example as motivation.

Grant’s teammates are already ready to help him in other ways.

“Every week we think JG can do it,” Christian said. “All players are aware of JG’s impact on the pitch and what he has already done in the NFL in Miami. So we know that we just need to give him a chance and anyone can go to the house. ”

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