Jeremy Ross? Birds' special teams nearly spoil W

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Jeremy Ross? Birds' special teams nearly spoil W

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December 9, 2013, 9:45 am
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Jeremy Ross, here returning a kickoff 98 yards for a score, became the first Lion since 1977 to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game. (USA Today Images)

Had the Eagles lost Sunday's game against the Lions, you know what everyone would be talking about?

Special teams.

And specifically Jeremy Ross, Detroit's journeyman wide receiver who was promoted from the practice squad in October. He has been with four teams since initially signing with New England in 2011 as a rookie free agent.

Ross on Sunday returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. His 58-yard punt return gave the Lions a 14-0 lead. Then after the Eagles had tied it at 14, he flew through the snow and returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a score.

What happened?

"On the punt return, I know the right side, I know a lot of guys got blocked up early at the line. I don’t know if they slipped or whatever," Kurt Coleman said. "Basically they ran a wall to that side. Ross didn’t have to break down at all. He caught it and just ran straight, and the guys on the left side tried to [get back], but to cut and do that, it was tough.”

"On the kick return, it seemed like he hit it, and then ended up squeaking out. I can’t really say who did what."

No one did much of anything. Ross didn't exactly look like Devin Hester or Dante Hall on either return. The Eagles' coverage units looked like they were, well, trudging through snow.

"It really changes up how we were trying to play," Coleman said. "You couldn’t go around the blocks. You couldn’t beat them with speed. You had to beat them with power. We really tried to kind of control him -- give him some yards, but nothing that he got. The times that he did break it, he was able to hit it straight ahead and not really slow down and change direction."

Ross, a San Diego native and Cal product, is the first Lion since Eddie Payton in 1977 to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game.

They were the first such touchdowns of Ross' career.

"I just try not to get too outside of myself when I'm making my cuts," said Ross, who nearly broke another, returning his final kickoff 46 yards before going out of bounds. "I think when players start to slip, it's because they get too wide -- cutting real wide -- and I try to keep it tight and narrow and not overextend, and try to keep my feet underneath me."

Colt Anderson had a chance to stop Ross early on the punt return but could making a diving swipe at his right ankle.

"The conditions are no excuse," Anderson said. "We can't allow two returns for touchdowns in a game under any circumstances. That just can't happen. We just make tackles, and I blame myself for the first one. I could have made a play and I didn't. We have to be better, and we will be."