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Brandon Wilson leads special teams resurgence vs. Giants

Wilson’s 103-yard touchdown return is the longest play in Bengals’ history.

NFL: NOV 29 Giants at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brandon Wilson is back in familiar territory.

On the strength of Sunday’s 103-yard kickoff return against the Giants, Wilson jumped into the top five among kickoff returners on the season.

Wilson’s average of 27.2 yards per return stands behind only Chicago’s Cordarrelle Patterson (30.3) and the Bills’ Andre Roberts (28.8) after 11 weeks. Patterson and Wilson both lead the way with five returns of over 40 yards.

All of which comes as no surprise to Bengals’ linebacker Josh Bynes, who watched Wilson do the same thing in Baltimore last year when Bynes was on the Ravens’ sideline. Then, Wilson returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a score, and went on to win the NFL kick return title.

“He housed it on us,” Bynes recalled. “Just to see him do it again because you know he has great capability and great speed—you saw nobody caught him—it was just so amazing.”

Wilson’s return came after the Giants had driven 76 yards in just nine plays on the game’s first drive to grab a quick 7-0 lead. New York managed just four field goals after that.

“I think it gave some juice to the team,” Bynes said. “I think it propelled everything for us. Brandon is a heckuva player. I love him. He’s a great player—return man, gunner, whatever you want him to do on special teams. He’s just done an awesome job and that play right there was definitely something we talked about all week and know Brandon is capable of it.”

Wilson followed blocks from rookie linebackers Akeem Davis-Gaither and Logan Wilson on his way to what would become the longest play in Bengals’ history, eclipsing 102-yard interception returns by Louis Breeden and Artrell Hawkins and a 102-yard kick return by Eric Bieniemy in 1997 against—who else—the Giants.

He also became only the second Bengal to record two career kickoff return touchdowns.

Wilson’s heroics were only a part of a special team resurgence that saw Cincinnati continue to recover from a poor showing against the Steelers two weeks ago.

In addition to Wilson’s record-setting return, Alex Erickson ripped off a 29-yard punt return that put the Bengals in business at midfield with 1:11 left and a chance to win the game.

“The punt return team gets a huge punt return and puts your offense in a position to go win the game,” head coach Zac Taylor said, “and it just didn’t work out that way. That tells you everything you need to know about these players in this locker room, and everything that I see every day and know.

“They’re playing hard for each other, and it’s going to turn for us I know at some point. I told them it’s frustrating—you’re sick to your stomach, it sucks. It’s not fun to lose. But we know that this tide is going to turn for us and we’re going back look back on this (someday). This is a necessary part of our growth, but we need to get some wins to show for all the work we’ve put in, because it makes it tough when you finish games like this.”