Posted: Sunday, January 16th 2005 at 12:10pm
Rossum sets NFL record for punt return yards
By The Associated Press
Allen Rossum made the most of his few punt return opportunities Saturday night, setting an NFL record with 152 yards on three returns as the Atlanta Falcons cruised past St. Louis, 47-17.
Rossum ranked second in the NFL with his average of 12.4 yards per return in the regular season, but he saved his best returns for Atlanta's playoff opener.
Rossum ran 68 yards for a touchdown on his first punt return in the second quarter _ the longest punt return in Atlanta postseason history _ to give Atlanta a 28-14 lead.
He added a 39-yard return to the St. Louis 32 to set up a touchdown early in the third quarter, and then crossed the field for a 45-yard return to the Rams' 13 to set up a field goal later in the quarter.
With only three returns, Rossum topped the previous NFL record of 143 yards by Minnesota's Anthony Carter against New Orleans in 1987.
Rossum's runs helped expose the Falcons' edge in special teams.
In the regular season, Atlanta ranked first in the NFL in punt coverage and sixth in kickoff coverage. The Rams ranked 30th in punt coverage and 32nd in kickoff coverage.
Rossum passed Billy "White Shoes" Johnson as the Falcons' all-time leading punt returner in Week 14 against Carolina. He also passed Deion Sanders' team record for career kickoff return yards.
Rossum's 68-yard return Saturday night was not his longest of the season. His longest return of his career was a 75-yarder for a touchdown at Kansas City on Oct. 24.
Rossum, better known for skills as a return specialist than his work as a cornerback, had the first two interceptions of his career and made one start.
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