● Only 15 times since 1960 has an NFL player had 100 yards receiving AND returned a punt for touchdown in the same game. The last two guys to do it will be on opposing sides Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field – DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Santana Moss of the Redskins.
In a 45-38 win over the Giants in 2009, Jackson had 178 yards receiving and a 72-yard punt return for a TD. The year before, in a 25-17 victory against the Lions, Moss had 140 yards receiving and ran back a punt 80 yards for a score.
Here are the others who have accomplished this feat in the last half century, two of them in the playoffs:
● Peter Warrick, Bengals vs. Chiefs, Nov. 16, 2003 – 114 receiving yards, 68-yard punt return TD.
● Steve Smith, Panthers vs. Bengals, Dec. 8, 2002 – 144 receiving yards, 61- and 87-yard punt return TDs.
● Troy Brown, Patriots vs. Steelers, Jan. 27, 2002 (AFC title game) – 121 receiving yards, 55-yard punt return TD.
● Az-Zahir Hakim, Rams vs. Broncos, Sept. 4, 2000 – 116 receiving yards, 86-yard punt return TD.
● Tim Dwight, Falcons vs. 49ers, Jan. 3, 2000 – 162 receiving yards, 70-yard punt return TD.
● Joey Galloway, Seahawks vs. Chargers, Oct. 25, 1998 – 130 receiving yards, 74-yard punt return TD.
● Jermaine Lewis, Ravens vs. Bengals, Sept. 27, 1998 – 122 receiving yards, 87-yard punt return TD.
● Walter Stanley, Packers vs. Lions, Nov. 27, 1986 – 124 receiving yards, 83-yard punt return TD.
Note: Stanley’s punt return came with 41 seconds left and won the game for Green Bay – the wildest Thanksgiving Day game ever – 44-40. Walter, of course, later played briefly for the Redskins in 1990.
● Paul Johns, Seahawks vs. Patriots, Sept. 16, 1984 – 105 yards receiving, 47-yard punt return TD.
● Wes Chandler, Chargers vs. Dolphins, Jan. 2, 1982 (playoffs) – 106 yards receiving, 58-yard punt return TD.
Note: This was the celebrated Kellen Winslow Game, in which the Hall of Fame tight end caught 13 passes for 166 yards and a score, blocked a Miami field goal try in overtime and was so physically spent at the end that he had to be helped off the field. The Chargers’ Dan Fouts threw for 433 yards, and the Dolphins’ Don Strock came off the bench to throw for 403.
● J.T. Smith, Chiefs vs. Colts, Dec. 21, 1980 – 129 yards receiving, 53-yard punt return TD.
● Freddie Solomon, Dolphins vs. Bills, Dec. 5, 1976 – 114 yards receiving, 79-yard punt return TD.
Note: Solomon scored a touchdown three different ways in this game – on the punt return, a 53-yard pass from Strock and a 59-yard run from scrimmage (on a reverse). Just a handful of NFL players have ever done that.
● Bob Hayes, Cowboys vs. Cardinals, Nov. 23, 1967 – 110 yards receiving, 69-yard punt return TD.
In only one of these instances, by the way, did the player’s team not win the game (Johns’ Seahawks vs. the Pats).
● You might say Eagles defensive end Jason Babin has had an interesting career. Drafted in the first round (27th overall) by the Texans – and general manager Charley Casserly – in 2004, he bounced around in his first six seasons, playing for four teams and totaling 17.5 sacks. But last year, at 30, he suddenly became a pass-rushing terror. He racked up 12.5 sacks for the Titans (and was voted to his first Pro Bowl), and this year he has 18 sacks for the Eagles with a game still to play.
How notable is this? Well, since the NFL started keeping track of the statistic in 1982, no player has had more sacks at the ages of 30 and 31 than Babin (30.5) has. The top 10 in this department:
Jason Babin, Titans/Eagles, 2010-11 – 30.5
Simon Fletcher, Broncos, 1992-93 – 29.5
Michael Strahan, Giants, 2001-03 – 28.5
Reggie White, Eagles/Packers, 1991-93 – 26.5
James Harrison, Steelers, 2008-09 – 26
Simeon Rice, Bucs, 2004-05 – 26
Lawrence Taylor, Giants, 1989-90 – 25.5
Leslie O’Neal, Chargers, 1994-95 – 25
Randy White, Cowboys, 1983-84 – 25
Wayne Martin, Saints, 1995-97 – 24.5
FYI: All-time sack leader Bruce Smith had 24.
That’s pretty good company Babin is keeping. After all, Reggie White, LT and Randy White are in the Hall of Fame, and a couple of the others (Strahan, Harrison) could well wind up there.
● And finally, if the favored Giants beat the Cowboys on Sunday and the underdog Redskins lose to the Eagles, they’ll both finish with the same conference record: 5-7. But because the Giants swept the AFC East and the Redskins got swept by the AFC East, the Giants will win the division and the Redskins will finish last.
In other words: Happy New Year.