Hester runs for sixth return TD, sets record

Updated: December 12, 2006, 12:51 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

 Devin Hester
Hester
ST. LOUIS -- Chicago coach Lovie Smith started an interesting debate following Monday night's 42-27 Bears' victory over the Rams. He suggested return specialist Devin Hester should be in the running for offensive rookie of the year.

Sure, he's a cornerback getting more playing time as a backup by the week. But Hester had kickoff returns of 94 and 96 yards for touchdowns against the Rams, setting the NFL record for six returns for touchdowns.

He's worked with Deion Sanders on his returns and, similar to Sanders, Hester twice held his left hand to his head more than 10 yards before he made it to the end zone for the score.

"The guy is unbelievable," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "I don't ever know what to say. I've never seen anything like it before in my life. He's got six now for the season. The guy's awesome. I would definitely not kick to him if I was one of the special teams coaches."

The Rams kicked to him after Torry Holt scored a 1-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Hester broke for a 94-yard score.

"My coach was telling me that they were going to overpursue to the direction of where the ball is being kicked," Hester said. "He said to just look for the cutback. And we went out and they kicked it to the far right and they overpursued it to the right and I cut it back, dodged a couple of defenders and took it to the end zone."

The touchdown gave the Bears a 7-6 lead.

"I guess you can call him 'The Man,"' linebacker Lance Briggs said. "Give him the status and all that goes with that. Anything that goes with that, he's that. He's an impact player in this league. He's something special."

The Rams hit Holt for a 6-yard score with 7:35 left in the fourth quarter to cut the Bears lead to 35-20. Chicago anticipated an onside kick, but Hester got the ball.

"They kicked it deep and when you get a chance to get your hands on the ball, you try to make something happen," Hester said.

Was he surprised teams still keep kicking to him?

"No, this is the NFL," Hester said. "Teams will not bow down to just one player. One player can't beat the team. I think throughout the rest of the season that teams will continue to kick to me."

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer