After spending eight years in as the return man for the Chicago Bears, Devin Hester has made his first year with the Atlanta Falcons a record-breaking one.
The record breaking touchdown occurred during a 56-14 trouncing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. Hester fielded a punt during the second quarter and scored after a 62 yard return to put the Falcons up 35-0, notching his 20th career return touchdown.
The record was previously held by former Atlanta Falcon, Deion Sanders, who was working the game as an analyst. Sanders was all smiles with arms raised on the Georgia Dome video board as Hester crossed the goal line paying tribute to Sanders’ high-step touchdown celebration.
â€” DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) September 19, 2014
Hester signed with Atlanta during the off-season after the Bears failed to offer him a new contract. He scored his first 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL, all on kick, punt or field-gal returns, which put him on a lightning pace to shatter Sanders’ record. After those first two years, the touchdowns seemed to dry up as teams began to kick away from Hester and the Bears tried to integrate him as a wide receiver in the offense.
The wide receiver experiment never quite worked out the way the Bears and Hester had hoped, but his return game had been resurrected during the 2010-12 season when he scored six more return touchdowns. Despite the brief resurgence, Hester was never again the same game-breaking force we saw in his first two seasons. Now with the Falcons, Hester has had a major impact in three games. In addition to his 20th return touchdown, Hester scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 20 yard reverse. In a post game interview with NFL Network, Hester called it the best game of his nine-year pro career.