Jordan Norwood’s wacky punt return ends up setting a Super Bowl record

Jordan Norwood set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return during the first half of Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, but the pint-sized Denver Broncos wide receiver would have likely been held to nothing had the Carolina Panthers special teams unit been paying more attention.

The return came midway through the second quarter, after a Panthers punt from their own 47-yard line. Norwood fielded the kick at his own 25-yard line, flanked by Panthers defenders Teddy Williams and Colin Jones. However, neither player tackled the sixth-year man out of Penn State — both appeared to think he had signaled for a fair catch — allowing Norwood to sprint up the right sideline.

After the blunder, Norwood nearly escaped for the first punt return touchdown in Super Bowl history but was eventually chased down by Mario Addison, who tripped him up at the Carolina 14-yard line. Fortunately, the play cost the Panthers only three points, as Broncos kicker Brandon McManus hit a 33-yard field goal to give Denver a 13-7 lead a few plays later.

Prior to Norwood’s return, the mark for the longest punt return in Super Bowl history previously belonged to former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver John Taylor, who returned a Cincinnati Bengals punt 45 yards in the Niners’ 20-16 win in Super Bowl XXIII.