Updated: November 18, 2011 9:02AM
Devin Hester already had scored a touchdown on a 48-yard pass reception and 98-yard kickoff return against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night when he took a punt in the third quarter that looked pretty close to another fastball down the middle.
He found an opening, cut to the outside, but was hemmed in by Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Hester coasted out of bounds and slammed the ball to the ground in frustration.
For all Hester has accomplished in his six-year NFL career, the triple-crown — touchdowns on a kickoff, punt and pass reception in the same game — remains elusive.
But just give him time. At the rate he’s going, he’ll get plenty more chances.
Hester had two touchdowns in the Beasr’ 39-10 rout of the Vikings at Soldier Field. But his night ended early when he left the game with a chest injury. His status is not known.
Hester helped set the tone when he beat Vikings safety Husain Abdullah and cornerback Cedric Griffin in the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown that gave the Bears a 7-0 lead just 2:13 seconds into the game.
It was a team effort, with excellent protection, including tight end Matt Spaeth on Vikings pass rusher Jared Allen and a perfect throw from Jay Cutler.
‘‘Great throw, good route by Devin,’’ Spaeth said. ‘‘It was good for us because it really jump-started the night for us.’’
After the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson scored on a four-yard run to close to 26-10 in the third quarter, Hester extended his NFL record for career kick return touchdowns when he took a kickoff in the third quarter, darted through a crease around the 35-yard line and outran what remained of the Vikings’ coverage unit for a 98-yard touchdown that gave the Bears a 33-10 lead.
‘‘When he’s back there and the music comes on and he’s on that big screen, I even get goosebumps — I’m about to block for the best kick returer who’s every played the game,’’ said Dom DeCicco, who helped block for Hester’s touchdown. ‘‘It makes you want to do your job that much more.
‘‘My guy was close [to Hester], but he’s just really fast and outran my guy. In situations like that one, you don’t get the best block on your guy, there’s still a good chance he’s going to make him miss, which makes our job so much easier. He’s just an unbelievable player and an even better guy. It’s awesome blocking for him.’’
Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd said he could tell Hester was going to break something.
‘‘Because right before we got out there, he smiles and has that look like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s eat. To the house,’’’ Hurd said. ‘‘That means every play can go to the house and I’m going to do my best to [make it happen]. He’s phenomenal.’’
Hurd credited the Bears’ special teams coaches for being well-prepared for the Vikings’ coverage scheme. But when asked what strategic move made it happen, it always comes back to the same thing.
‘‘Having Devin Hester back there —that’s what made work,’’ Hurd said. ‘‘Everybody picked up their blocks and went out there and made sure they got their job done and Devin did the rest.’’
Rookie tight end Kyle Adams also had a key block on the return.
‘‘I had to climb up and get my guy, and I was able to get him,’’ Adams said. ‘‘I wish I could take a lot of credit, but Devin set up the block and scooted the 80 yards. It was a good block, but I think that return was a lot of Devin.”’