Gamble Pays Off

CHICAGO - Bobby Wade on Sunday had permission to go where no punt returner is supposed to go.

Wade fielded a second-quarter Chris Kluwe punt not only in the forbidden zone inside the 10-yard line, but inside the 5 at the 2 and returned it 49 yards to set up the Bears' first scoring drive while providing a much-needed momentum boost in a 28-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

"We needed the spark for sure,'' said Wade, who had returned one 73 yards for a TD to help turn the Bears' previous win at home, 38-6 over Detroit.

Wade took the ball up the right sideline and was finally run out of bounds by Kluwe as the coverage started to catch him.

"You're not supposed to catch it inside the 10, but we knew he wasn't hanging the ball up and we knew he was outkicking the coverage and we knew that our punt return team, those other 10 guys can hold their guys up at the line of scrimmage some,'' Wade said.

"When they hold them up like that, you're catching the ball free and you've got a lot of vision and you're able to see a lot of things in front of you The rest is just running where you need to run.''

Special teams coach Dave Toub had told Wade that he could catch it this week inside the 10 just because film had shown Kluwe outkicking his coverage men. Still, the 2-yard line is risky.

"I was going to catch that one all the way,'' Wade said. "As soon as it came off his foot I could see it. As soon as it comes off low and hard like that, even though you know it's going to hang a little bit, but you can see the trajectory of the ball and you understand that you'll have the shot to return it.''

Bears quarterback Kyle Orton described his feeling watching Wade field the ball probably like the feeling many in the Soldier Field crowd of 58,972 had watching the play.

"I was like, 'let it go in (the end zone), let it go in, what the heck are you doing catching it at the (2)?' Then I saw him break a couple tackles and was (yelling) 'go Bobby. Go Bobby.' That was a great play.''

Wade came into the game as the NFL's leading punt returner and increased his average from 12.4 to 13.5 yards per attempt. The last Bear to lead the NFL in punt return average was Johnny Morris in 1959.


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