Special teams highlight: Devin Hester’s punt return for TD; lowlight: offsides penalty on recovered onside kick
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 20: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears runs a punt back for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on October 20, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, Md. — The text message on Devin Hester’s phone, from a number saved as “Prime Time,” offered congratulations.
Maybe 10 feet away — through a locker-room doorway in the bowels of FedEx Field — Eric Weems was a world away from glory.
He stood and explained, as simply as he could, that he was not deserving of the penalty that robbed the Bears of a potential momentum shift during a 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The Bears’ special teams unit gave, and it took away.
When Hester returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, it did more than boost the Bears after Jay Cutler’s groin injury — it matched Deion Sanders’ NFL record of 19 returns for touchdown.
Hester has five career kickoff returns and one return of a missed field goal for scores.
The latest of his 13 punt returns for touchdowns started left. He ran across the field and up the right side, behind a gorgeously constructed wall.
“It means a lot to me, my family,” Hester said. “We do look at stuff like that. We honor stuff like that, as well as my teammates.
“It feels good. It’s a team effort game. Whenever I take one to the house, we all feel like we took it to the house.”
The Bears almost did it again. With 45 seconds left, the Bears faked an end around on a kick return, and Hester threw across the field to Joe Anderson, who ran it 25 yards.
Sanders — whose 19 returns include nine interceptions — sent a text message to Hester afterward.
“It’s something that you really can’t celebrate [in a loss],” Hester said. “We do celebrate it as a special-teams unit. It’s something we strive for everyday, to get better and better each and every day at what we do.
“But overall as a team effort — we gotta go in and watch film — we still feel like we still left plays out there that we still could have took advantage of.”
After the Bears pulled within four with about nine minutes left, they tried an onside kick.
Robbie Gould rolled a kick slowly in front of him. After the Redskins couldn’t corral the ball, the Bears recovered it. But Weems was flagged for being offside.
Replays were far from certain.
“Big momentum swing,” he said. “We had momentum after we just kicked the field goal, and we wanted to surprise them with an onside kick.
“We got it, but they took it away from us.”
Weems was confident he was onside.
“As soon as they kicked the ball, that’s when I crossed the line,” Weems said. “But they made the call, and that’s something I have to deal with.”