Devin Hester sets return TD mark

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Friday, September 19, 2014

ATLANTA -- Devin Hester of the Atlanta Falcons set an NFL record with the 20th touchdown return of his career when he brought back a second-quarter punt 62 yards for a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

Hester previously shared the record with mentor Deion Sanders, who attended the game for CBS/NFL Network and saluted Hester on the video board.

Sanders tweeted his approval later.

@D_Hest23 like I said is the BEST EVER!! #TRUTH

- DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) September 19, 2014Hester now has 14 punt returns for scores to go with five kickoff returns for scores and a return of a missed field goal for a touchdown.

The 62-yarder was his first return score for the Falcons, with the rest having come during his time with the Chicago Bears from 2007 through '12.

"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 also commended Hester via Twitter: "Still ridiculous, @D_Hest23. Congratulations on breaking the return record."

Hester's record-breaking touchdown was his second score of the night. On the first play of the second quarter, he took a reverse and raced 20 yards to the end zone to give Atlanta a 28-0 lead.

Hester, though, did exit the field before halftime with cramps. The Falcons, leading 35-0, said he was questionable to return in the second half, but he ended up re-entering the game with 11 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter.

He later hobbled to the locker room with 1 minutes, 47 seconds left in the third quarter and the Falcons up, 56-0.