Quan Cosby threatened Patrick Robinson's 1993 franchise record of 43 punt returns in a single season during Cincinnati's AFC North championship season. Though he would fall three punt returns short in 2009, Cosby still set a franchise record with 474 yards on punt return. Even with his name littered throughout the franchise's history books, the team viewed Brandon Tate as the better option, thus releasing Cosby once the former New England receiver was claimed off waivers. And Tate is threatening a couple of the single-season punt return records.
Saying that Tate struggled earlier this year would be an understatement. He's returning kickoffs deep in the end zone forcing Cincinnati's offense to begin well inside the 20-yard line. Sometimes he's allowing catchable punts to drop and roll that pushes the Bengals' offense close to their own goalline. That being said Tate is on-pace to post 56 punt returns, shattering Robinson's franchise record (43). And the pace that Tate's returning punts, he'll break Quan Cosby's single-season record of 474 yards by nearly 120 yards (593). One could argue that's the result of Cincinnati's defense, forcing so many punts -- and I accept that. But has Tate finally started to understand the punt return game?
With 13:38 remaining in the third quarter, Brandon Tate drifts toward the Bengals 15-yard line after Pat McAfee (aka, the badly misplaced 80s glam rock star) used the wind to crush a 59-yard punt. Tate hauls in the punt and sees this:
As Tate moves forward, the Bengals coverage team perfectly obstructed the Colts in a well-built wall that opened Tate's lane down the left sidelines -- including Cedric Peerman blowing up a Colts defender (not pictured yet).
Though the perfect wall is largely what opens Tate's lane, you really just want to see Cedric Peerman's block that will grow a man's testicles.
Tate was finally forced out of bounds at the Bengals 48-yard line after the 33-yard punt return.
But back to the block.
It's understood that Tate's franchise record pace will be argued as a benefactor with having one of the league's top defenses that's on pace to force opposing offenses to punt over 100 times this season. Still Tate has to return punts and the 33-yarder against the Colts was the most encouraging yet.