The fourth punt return touchdown of Hester’s career snapped a four-way tie for the Bears record with Dennis McKinnon, Steve Schubert and Ray McLean.
At first, it seemed Devin Hester had grown so bored with his lack of participation in the Bears’ offense, he’d turned into a part-time scarecrow.
Turns out he was clearing the runway.
Settling into return position early in the second quarter Sunday, Hester shooed a pigeon from the vicinity in which Hester would await Dustin Colquitt’s punt. The bird assumed a position a few yards nearer the line of scrimmage, only to move again seconds later as Hester not quite literally flew past.
“I just wanted to play with the bird, man,” Hester said.
He wasn’t so nice to the Chiefs, avoiding so much as a fingertip of any defender and leaping two would-be tacklers on a 73-yard touchdown return. It was the seventh such return of Hester’s career, adding to the NFL record six he had in his rookie season last year.
The fourth punt return touchdown of Hester’s career snapped a four-way tie for the Bears record with Dennis McKinnon, Steve Schubert and Ray McLean. Gale Sayers holds the team’s record for combined kick returns for TDs with eight.
Hester nearly joined Sayers on two other occasions in the third quarter.
Another punt return went for 31 yards to the Chiefs 18, only Nate Harris’ lunging tackle as Hester attempted to cut against the grain saving a touchdown.
Then, after a Kansas City field goal made the score 20-10, Hester went 95 yards down the right sideline for an apparent touchdown, but a holding penalty on Rod Wilson brought it back.
After the performance, which included five punt returns for 143 yards and two kickoff returns for 29 more, Hester conceded he can amaze even himself.
“Every day, I give all my credit to God. He’s the one who blessed me with the talent I have,” Hester said.
But he was not amazed that the Chiefs would keep kicking to him.
“This is the NFL,” he said. “There’s going to be teams that are going to have a lot of
confidence in their special teams.”
It worked in Week 1 against San Diego, when Hester had one kickoff return for 29 yards and no punt returns.
“We faced a great punter last week (the Chargers’ Mike Scifres). He gave the coverage team a chance to get down,” Hester said. “He had a couple 5.0 (second) hang times and that (forced) me to do a lot of fair catching.”
In any event, the day made for a happier Hester than the loss in San Diego. Hester bit his tongue after that game, when Danieal Manning got as much return work as he did and Hester made only token appearances on offense.
This week wasn’t much different in that last respect.
Hester had one pass go through his hands late in the first quarter and Grossman looked his way unsuccessfully again in the third.
“Obviously, we need to get the ball to him in space and see what he can do,” Grossman said. “We had a bunch of plays in the game plan for him this week, and didn’t get to them.”
Hester was OK with it, saying, “It’s all in the game plan. However the game goes is going to determine how many touches I get. Some games I’m probably not going to get in on offense. Some games I am. That’s how our game plan is and that’s how we’re going to stick with it.”