|Look familiar, Bears' opponents? Please quit kicking to Devin Hester. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
It's amazing what Jay Cutler can accomplish when he isn't constantly running for his life. Against the Vikings Sunday night, the Bears quarterback was 21 of 31 for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was a big reason for Chicago's 39-10 victory over a hapless Minnesota team. Also helping: the Vikings' insistence on kicking to Devin Hester, a Hall of Fame returner if there ever was one.
Hester had a 98-yard kick return in the third quarter, a 27-yard punt return, and for good measure, a 48-yard touchdown reception.
“I think the shocking part for us is that people still kick to him because he’s such a threat,” Cutler said after the game. “And we know he is taking a shot, he might take one to the house, so it’s fun.”
And that's the thing: why do teams keep kicking to Hester? What rational explanation could there be? Two weeks ago, the Panthers were reminded of just how dangerous Hester is. We brought it up during Week 4's Coach Killers column but apparently it bears repeating: Did we learn nothing from Mike Shanahan, or Tony Dungy or, more generally speaking, Tom Coughlin and Matt Dodge?
The Panthers might've beaten the Bears if not for two bone-headed special teams miscues that involved kicking or punting the ball right to Hester. The Vikings still would've gotten blown out Sunday night, but the point remains: it doesn't take any talent to kick (hey, having Chicago start at the 40 is better than the alternative) or punt the ball out of bounds.
“It’s exciting when you’ve got a guy back there you know is a difference-maker and if you get your block and if everybody gets their blocks, he can make guys miss and make things happen,” tight end Matt Spaeth said Sunday night, according to ChicagoBears.com. “It’s exciting to be out there.”
Yeah, we bet.
Coach Lovie Smith added: “There’s never been anyone like him. ... We're all kind of witnessing history every time he touches it.”
And that's the truth. PFT's Michael David Smith points out that "Hester has 11 punt return touchdowns, five kickoff return touchdowns and one missed field goal return touchdown in his NFL career."
No one has done that, and it's why Hester will likely one day end up in Canton sporting a spiffy yellow blazer.
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