CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears returns a punt 89 years for a touchdown in the 4th quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Devin Hester
After breaking the NFL record for most return touchdowns ever by a single human being, Devin Hester spoke about how he was regarded as "just" as punt and kick returner coming out of college. That's like saying Jimi Hendrix was "just" a guitar player, or that Vincent van Gogh was "just" a painter. For a football fan, Hester's returns are works of art. Here are his five best compositions:
5. Hester's TD sparks offense for NFC-North winning game over Minnesota -- Though that could be the description of Monday night's game, this was from the Bears NFC North title game on Dec. 3, 2006. Like Monday's game, Hester returned a Chris Kluwe punt for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was the first score of the game, and helped the Bears to a 23-13 win over the Vikings and a playoff berth.
4. Two touchdowns help Bears get OT victory in Denver -- Before Jay Cutler was a Bear, he was a Bronco, and he played well against Chicago on Nov. 25, 2007, racking up 302 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Cutler, Hester had an even better game, running back a punt for 75 yards and a kickoff for 88 yards. The Bears won 37-34 in overtime with a Robbie Gould field goal.
3. Soldier Field surprise for Green Bay -- Hester went through all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons without a single return touchdown. The Bears had him focused on his role as a wide receiver, and Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox both chipped in on returns. Then Hester found his step again when playing the Bears' most-hated rivals: the Packers, and on "Monday Night Football." On Sept. 28, 2010, Hester returned a punt early in the fourth quarter for 62 yards. This kicked off a surprising comeback that saw the Bears win 20-17 in the final seconds of the game.
2. The record breaker -- With freezing rain falling, a frozen surface at TCF Bank Stadium and playoff hopes on the line, Hester ran back the kickoff to start the second half for 79 yards, but was stopped just six yards short of the end zone. Ten football minutes later, Hester had another chance. He caught a Kluwe punt and saw a hole and broke through, not slowing until he was deep in the end zone. The Bears went on to win 40-14, clinching their NFC North championship on Dec. 20, 2010.
1. Super Bowl speediness -- Partly on the strength of Hester's legs, the Bears made it to the Super Bowl to play the Indianapolis Colts. Hester started the game in style, returning the opening kickoff 92 yards. From there, it fell apart for the Bears, who went on to lose 29-17. But nothing can take away that breathtaking start of the game, and the image of Hester speeding down the field in front of the elated fans who wanted to see him do just that.