Colts Flashback: Devin Hester’s Super Bowl Kickoff Return
The Atlanta Falcon just became the NFL’s all-time leader in returns for touchdowns. And one of them, in Super Bowl XLI, gave Indy quite a scare.
In the Atlanta Falcons’ Thursday-night game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, speedster Devin Hester returned a second-quarter punt for a touchdown. With the score—his 20th all-time—Hester surpassed Hall-of-Famer “Neon” Deion Sanders as the most prolific returner in NFL history, with 14 TDs on punts, five on kickoffs, and another on a missed field goal.
But easily the most memorable return of Hester’s career, at least for Colts fans (and the team, no doubt), was his run-back of the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI in Miami. The record-setting scamper is chronicled in the “30 for 30” feature in IM‘s September issue, a roundup of the most memorable moments, milestones, plays, and players in Indianapolis Colts history—excerpted below.
Hester Houses the Opening Kickoff
In just his rookie season, Bears speed demon Devin Hester had already established himself as the most dangerous kick-returner in the league. But the surging Colts didn’t seem too worried. “Before the game, we’re like, ‘Kick it to him—we’re not scared,’” says Robert Mathis, who was playing on the coverage unit. Hester subsequently became the first player in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. “On the next kick,” Mathis says, “I was like, ‘Hey, do NOT kick it to him. Kick it to him, and I’m going to fight you.’” —J.L.
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