Punt return TD puts Hyde in elite company
It wasn't the best afternoon for the Green Bay Packers' special teams, but safety Micah Hyde provided one glowing positive.
Hyde's 75-yard touchdown return in the first quarter broke open the Packers' blowout win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The score gave Green Bay a 17-0 lead, and the route was on.
"I thought Micah's punt return was one of the bigger plays in the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought it gave us a chance to jump out there in front and play with the kind of lead you definitely like the play with, especially at home. That was a big-time play. Something that he's very good at, particularly catching that ball on the run and getting north and south."
Hyde's punt return Sunday – along with his 93-yard punt return last season at the Minnesota Vikings – put the third-year defensive back in elite company. He's one of two players in the league to return punts for touchdowns in this season and last.
The other is Atlanta Falcons returner Devin Hester, formerly with the Chicago Bears.
Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said there were "a number of good blocks" on the return, especially from cornerback Davon House. Of course, Hyde made the most of his opening.
"I think, No. 1, he's got good awareness," Slocum said. "He's got a lot of courage and he takes the ball vertically quickly."
Slocum had plenty of corrections to focus on Monday.
For the second time in a month, the Packers allowed a punt block. Punter Tim Masthay also mishandled an extra point snap, and the Packers had another extra point attempt blocked.
Slocum said long snapper Brett Goode "broke down in protection" on the punt block, and Masthay was "a little slow" getting the punt off. He said the blocked extra point was also a protection breakdown.
Now that the Packers have shown a tendency to allow blocked punts, Slocum said he expects opponents to look for more opportunities.
"I think they identify what they would view as a weakness, and they attack that," Slocum said. "One thing about this league, you better stop what you've done poorly or it will get exposed."
-email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood