October 02, 2011
You knew it would happen sooner or later, and it happened Sunday against the Carolina Panthers — Chicago Bears speedster/wunderkind Devin Hester(notes) broke the NFL record for punt return touchdowns with the 11th of his career, breaking Eric Metcalf's old mark.
We'll have the video up soon, but you can see it here for now.
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As with all his other returns, Hester showed amazing speed and sick cuts on the play, which happened with 11:50 left in the second quarter. Hester gets his punt return scores in bunches to be sure — he had three in his rookie year of 2006, four in 2007, three in 2009, and he's been shut out in 2008 and 2009. That was partially because his role as a receiver increased in the Bears' offense, but it's hard to keep a good man down. Hester also nearly returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the Panthers, and he's got 15 return touchdowns in his estimable NFL career.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Hester's recent touchdowns on punts is how frequently they happen in proportion to the chances he gets. In 2009, for example, he banked three scores on just 33 punt returns, and he'd had just three punt returns through the 2011 season before Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton(notes) passed for 195 yards in the first half, putting him on track for the third 400-yard game in his four-game career. The Bears were up, 24-20, at the half.
UPDATE: The Bears won, 34-29, and Newton finished with 374 passing yards.
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