Devin Hester's top returns: No. 2

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:00
AM ET
We continue the series with new Atlanta Falcons return specialist Devin Hester and his top returns, as he ranked him. Hester holds the NFL record with 18 kick-return touchdowns in eight previous seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Here is the second-best return on Hester's list:

The scene: Dolphins Stadium, Miami (Feb. 4, 2007)

The scenario: Super Bowl XLI was a homecoming for Hester, who grew up in Riviera Beach, Fla., and played college ball for the hometown Hurricanes. It was only appropriate for him to get a chance to return the opening kick on this big stage. The opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, made a bold choice deciding to go ahead and kick to him despite debating it leading into the game. Hester grabbed kicker Adam Vinateri's kick near the left sideline, cut back to the middle, made four defenders miss and darted to the end zone for a 92-yard score. It marked the first time in Super Bowl history the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. Usually subdued Bears coach Lovie Smith showed his emotion, running down the sideline with his arms signaling touchdown in celebration. But the Bears lost the game, 29-17.

Hester's take: "The Super Bowl one was special not only because it was the Super Bowl, but because it was the first play of the game. It was huge momentum. And it was back at home for me. It was an opportunity to take one to the house in front of my hometown. Not only that, it was the Super Bowl and my first appearance there. It happened so fast, man.''

Blocker's perspective: "We knew that nobody had ever run the opening kickoff back in a Super Bowl. And we knew we weren't going to get many opportunities because we kept reading 'Are they going to kick to Devin? Are they not going to kick to Devin?' That opening kickoff, they decided they wanted to kick it deep. We took advantage of it -- Devin took advantage of it. When you know you can get it in the end zone every single time, it makes guys want to block that much more. I was playing the right tackle position. I think we had a double team going because they had a big guy at the R3 or R4. After I made my block and I saw Devin cut ... he went by me at that point and I turned around and looked. Probably at the 45-yard line, I knew he was gone. I just remember running down to the end zone with him and I remember grabbing him by his neck and we were just pointing at the camera. It was amazing. I felt like I had scored. That's how tight we were, how close we were at a special teams unit: Anytime he scored, we felt like we scored. All those guys on that unit, they wanted to get Devin in the end zone.'' -- Safety Chris Harris, who threw a key block in the middle of the field.

Friday: Topping it off

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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