Leon Washington earned great honors by owning a share in a record for most kickoff returns for a touchdown in the league, but now the Seattle Seahawks running back has even greater ambitions. The 30-year-old Lean Washington hopes to break off the record tie with Cleveland Browns wide receiver return specialist Josh Cribbs and lead the record all by himself.
''That's my goal,” said Leon Washington. “And to get it by a few so nobody can catch me.”
The Pro-Bowl selection Leon Washington tied with Josh Cribbs last week when he made a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of Seattle Seahawks’ 24-21 loss to Miami Dolphins last week.
It was a hallmark moment for Leon Washington, who recorded his first kickoff return for a touchdown in over two seasons since he took three back for touchdowns after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. However, that was back when the NFL hadn’t tweaked with the kickoff rules, moving them to the 35-yard line so that returns became rare.
Just how rare are uncommon are kickoffs nowdays? Leon Washington started his rookie season with two kickoffs back for touchdowns while facing San Diego and scoring another later in the season against the same team. Leon Washington had 57 kickoff returns that season, the highest in his career. That number dipped to 43 last season.
During 11 games this season, Leon Washington has made a kickoff return for a touchdown 18 times until now. Still, Leon Washington and Seattle Seahawks coach Brian Schneider have felt for most part of the season that the return game could spike-up.
However, the achievement could have been the icing on the cake if there was an improvement in the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks’ record.
''During the bye week we did a tremendous job of identifying what we do best and getting back to that,'' said Leon Washington. ''... You look at the play, you get a hole that big something has to be happening right. It was good to see us go out and execute.''
Although Leon Washington had a limited number of opportunities this season, he already ranks third in the NFL averaging 31.9 yards per kick return. Leon Washington could be onto his career-best return average after the 27.5 he averaged in his second season with the New York Jets. Leon Washington’s remarkable performance this season could be an indicator that he’s made a full recovery from the fractured leg sustained in 2009.
This week, the Seattle Seahawks face the Chicago Bears, but there wouldn’t be a contest between the NFL’s two most dynamic kick returners since Bears’ Devin Hester is out with a concussion. However, Leon Washington is aware of the impact of special teams in this game.
The Seattle Seahawks are trying to get a hold of the final wild card spot in the NFC division while the Chicago Bears maintain a single game’s lead over their NFC Central rival the Green Bay Packers.
''That's what it's going to come down to,” said Leon Washington, “who can win the field position battle, who can give their offense better room to work with and who can give their defense a better field to work with a big special teams play could be huge for both sides.''