We continue our series with new Atlanta Falcons return man Devin Hester as he reflects on his five greatest returns during his record-setting stint with the Chicago Bears. Hester holds the NFL record with 18 kick-return touchdowns. This is the one he ranked third on his list:
Scene: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin (Sept. 10, 2006).
Scenario: Hester, a second-round pick of the Bears out of the University of Miami in 2006, came to the team as a defensive back but was known for his unique return ability in college. In his first-ever NFL game, he stepped back to field a Jon Ryan punt early in the fourth quarter with the Bears already enjoying a 19-0 lead. Hester fielded the 50-yard punt at his own 16-yard line, took two steps left but cut it back right when he saw a double team on the gunner. Hester followed two blocks down the right sideline by fellow rookie Mark Anderson and Charles Tillman and sprinted to a 84-yard touchdown. Hester's score capped a 26-0 win as the Bears handed Mike McCarthy a blowout loss in his coaching debut and shut out Brett Favre for the first time as he entered his 16th NFL season.
Hester's take: "Just because it was my first, first game in the NFL, period. For me to set the tone for myself, from just everyone talking about the things I did in college where impossible to do in the league. Being the first game of my NFL career and being able to take one back, it was kind of unheard of for a rookie. I think it was Peanut (Charles Tillman) and somebody else out there blocking.''
Blocker's perspective: ``I just remember that basically, all I had to do was get in the way. Was I amazed? Not really because I already saw what he could do during practice. It was just a matter of him getting a chance to do it in a game. And he did.'' Defensive end Mark Anderson, who cleared Hester's path to the end zone with a block on the punter Ryan.
Thursday: Happy return