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After Video Review, Greg Dortch Lights Up Punt Return

Wideout's 49-yard play shows preparation matters

Greg Dortch grabbed his tablet the Monday before the Falcons game, the opponent's video having been loaded on, and saw a punt return by Washington's Jamison Crowder than went 61 yards against Atlanta earlier in the season.

Immediately, Dortch picked up his phone and texted special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers.

"I'm like, 'Coach we need this exact return' and he was like, 'Got it,'" Dortch said.

"He saw something on tape," Rodgers said. "Generally speaking, a guy says 'Hey I see this, can we put it in?' We weren't quite done with the game plan and we kind of flipped some stuff around. He had the right idea."

When the return was called in the game, Dortch took the ball and raced 49 yards the other way, setting up a crucial 21-yard touchdown drive that ended with the Clayton Tune shove sneak for a score.

The 49-yard punt return was the longest for the Cardinals since Ted Ginn's 71-yard return for a touchdown in 2014 against the Giants in New York, a play that sparked a win behind backup QB Drew Stanton.

"I'm not going to lie, it's a tad bit luck," Dortch said. "A guy may have to trip up or something has to go your way, might have to break a tackle like I did. A big punt return, it's an exciting play because it's rare. A lot of things have to go your way."

Rodgers said he usually gets suggestions on a weekly basis about special teams, although it isn't always the same thing. Maybe it's the way to block a guy, a way to try to block a punt, an opening to try a fake, or a nuance the opposition has that needs to be accounted for.

"I've gotten some wild suggestions over the years" Rodgers said. "You don't implement them all but the thing is, guys are doing their preparation stuff. When you are invested like that, generally you'll get better results."

Dortch has only played 46 offensive snaps this season and has only two targets as a wide receiver (one catch for two yards). He hasn't had the kind of offensive impact he had hoped, but plays like the punt return are what he can contribute.

"My job is to help the offense get better field position and that's what I did," Dortch said. "I did that and I feel really good."

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch (83) during the Week 10 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Nov 12, 2023 in Glendale, AZ.