The stage was set perfectly. It was Monday Night Football in wind-chilled Minnesota, a snow flurry falling on the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings, and there was Devin Hester, one return touchdown away from breaking the NFL record set by Brian Mitchell in the early noughties.
You could sense that something big was going to happen. And happen it did.
Less than three minutes into the second half, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe sent a line-drive punt straight at Hester and within seconds the nation had witnessed history.
After dodging a couple of would-be tacklers, Devin would sprint 64 into the end zone for his 14th return touchdown surpassing the previous record of 13.
"I told you a long time ago I knew he would set the record one day," Brian Mitchell said on Monday night. "I am totally excited for him. I love to see anyone bring that kind of excitement to the return game. It’s great for the game for special teams to get this kind of recognition. Now there are plenty more touchdowns for him to go after."
For Hester, his return was not only record-breaking, but also instrumental in the Bears' 40-14 victory over Minnesota. With the win, the Bears move to 10-4 on the season guaranteeing them a first place finish in the NFC North and a birth in the postseason.
"It's the record-breaker, but there's going to be a lot more. I guarantee you that."
For Hester, the record came on the 286th return of his career in just his 74th game. It took Mitchell 1,070 returns in a career spanning 13 seasons to set the previous record of 13 touchdowns.
There’s good news for fans of the NFL who enjoy sitting on the edge of their seats and watching the unbelievable unfold before their eyes: "It's the record-breaker, but there's going to be a lot more. I guarantee you that." Hester said.
- 14 total return touchdowns
- 10 punt return touchdowns
- 1 Super Bowl kick-return touchdown
- 1 missed field goal return touchdown
What may be even more impressive about Hester’s record is that neither his Super Bowl nor his missed field goal return touchdowns are credited toward his career totals. To boot, Hester is also a talented wide receiver having caught 11 touchdown passes in his career including a 15-yarder during the second quarter of Monday night's victory.
As we continue watching undoubtedly the greatest returner of all time, many years from now we will have stories to tell such as those our elders have passed to us about the legends of their time.
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