Devin Hester fielded a punt at the 38-yard-line and broke free on Thursday night, scampering to a 62-yard touchdown that helped seal the victory and put himself in the record books.
With the touchdown Hester set an NFL record, moving past Deion Sanders in all-time return touchdowns.
Hester appeared to know about the record, as he emulated Sanders with an extended high step as he made it into the endzone. The tribute to Sanders earned Hester a flag and a 15-yard penalty for taunting.
It was part of a big night for Devin Hester, who also scored on a 20-yard end around to push the Atlanta Falcons out to a 35-0 halftime lead. It was his first career rushing touchdowns.
The Falcons would go on to win the game 56-14.
For years as a member of the Chicago Bears, Devin Hester was the league’s top return threat. During 2007 and 2012, he had 19 returns for touchdowns as a member of the Bears, including 14 punts, five kickoffs, and one return of a missed field goal. Thursday’s return touchdown was his first with the Falcons since joining the team this season.
After the record setting night, many former Bears spoke out to congratulate Hester.
“I think it’s awesome, and it couldn’t happen to a better man,” former Bears teammate and retired linebacker Brian Urlacher told ESPN.
“Kind of weird seeing him do it in a Falcons jersey against the coach that drafted him [Lovie Smith, who now coaches the Buccaneers]. But an awesome accomplishment for him, though. I’m very proud of him.”
The Bears even congratulated Devin Hester via Twitter.
“Still ridiculous, @D_Hest23. Congratulations on breaking the return record.”
But Devin Hester wasn’t able to stay on the field to see the blowout to its conclusion. He left in the third quarter with cramps and his team leading 56-0.
[Image via Rant Sports]