Hester takes opening kick of Super Bowl for TD

Updated: February 4, 2007, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Devin Hester got the Super Bowl off to a lightning-quick start, becoming the first player to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Return time
Devin Hester
Eight players have now returned kickoffs for touchdowns in Super Bowl history, but the Bears' Devin Hester is the first to do it on the opening kick. Here are the KO returns for TDs in the Super Bowl:
Player, Team
Super Bowl
Fulton Walker, MIAWAS98XVII
Stanford Jennings, CINS.F.93XXIII
Andre Coleman, S.D.S.F.98XXIX
Desmond Howard, G.B.N.E.99XXXI
Jermaine Lewis, BALNYG84XXXV
Devin Hester, CHIIND92XLI

Hester ran the opening kick back 92 yards Sunday night, staking the Chicago Bears to a 7-0 lead over the Indianapolis Colts.

It was the eighth time in Super Bowl history that a kickoff was returned for a touchdown. Desmond Howard has the longest kickoff return in the game's history, a 99-yarder for Green Bay against New England in 1997.

Hester, who played college ball at Miami, set an NFL record with six kick returns for touchdowns this season and was the only rookie on The Associated Press All-Pro team.

Hester caught the ball near the left sideline, cut back to the middle, made a slew of Colts miss and then outsprinted three Indianapolis chasers to the end zone. Bears coach Lovie Smith followed Hester down the sideline, his hands raised in the touchdown symbol, while Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri knelt on the turf, throwing his hands up in disgust.

The next time the Colts kicked off, they went with a squib kick.

Hester's runback matched the feat of Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. in the Bowl Championship Series title game a month earlier. Ginn took the opening kick back 93 yards for a touchdown against Florida, but the Buckeyes wound up losing 41-14 to the Gators in college football's national championship game.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press