Adam Podlesh’s sneaky special-teams gem wasn’t “Devin Hester” flashy, nor was it original.
But the Bears’ punter, understandably, couldn’t help but flash a smile when talking about it.
Podlesh dusted off some of the footwork that he displayed at Sutherland High in Pittsford, N.Y., some 10 years ago and showed it off on a sunny Sunday at Soldier Field.
The Bears finally got a couple of big plays from their special teams during their 28-10 victory over the visiting Vikings. And, no, they weren’t compliments of Hester, who left the game in the second quarter with a concussion.
Podlesh provided one, after Julius Peppers had blocked a 30-yard field-goal try earlier in the game. The former speedy running back in high school who’s in his sixth NFL season ran for a PAT conversion on a fake after Michael Bush’s 1-yard touchdown run extended the Bears’ lead to 16-3 with 4:01 left in the half.
According to STATS, the only other Bears punter to score points in a game was Bob Parsons, who played tight end early in his career.
The last time Podlesh had visited the end zone with ball in hand was when he was starring at Sutherland as a fullback/linebacker and, yes, punter.
“I just wanted to get it,” Podlesh said with a smile of his first 2 NFL points. “I went back to my glory days playing running back in high school.”
The play went just like the Bears drew it up. Patrick Mannelly long-snapped the ball to Podlesh, who sprung from his holder position and followed a Gabe Carimi block into the end zone. No Viking was close to Podlesh when he sprinted across the goal line.
“The Vikings had a look that let us run this play,” Podlesh said. “They showed it a couple of times (earlier in the game), so we figured that we’d make it an automatic afterward. We wanted to do it on an extra point.”
“We originally saw the Baltimore Ravens do it,” Podlesh said. “I think they did it last year. They had that in their repertoire. We saw that it worked well with certain looks.”
Podlesh even had an admittedly good day punting the ball for the second straight game, averaging 43.3 yards on 4 punts and landing fourth-quarter boots at the Minnesota 18- and 10-yard lines.
He had been struggling enough in the first half of the season that the Bears recently tried out other punters.
Podlesh, who signed a five-year, $10 million, free-agent contract with the Bears during the 2011 off-season, had been bothered by a hip-flexor injury during the preseason.
“(Special-teams coach) Kevin (O’Dea) and I have been working on a few things, and they’ve really paid off — breaking down fundamentals and doing a diagnostics check, if you will, with me,” Podlesh said.
“We found a couple of things that, if we improved on, could see some good results, and that’s what happened.”
As for the fake PAT kick, Podlesh said the Bears had been practicing it. They just hadn’t found the right opportunity to run it.
Once he trotted out for the conversion, he communicated with kicker Robbie Gould that the play was on. He then just let his ol’ running back instincts take over.
“I wasn’t really nervous because everything happened so quickly,” he said. “We said if they show the front, we’re going to run it. We went out there, saw the front and I said, ‘Hey, Robbie. We’re running it.’ He said, ‘OK, OK.’ We just snapped the ball and ran with it. I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.