Devin Hester keeps his head after holding penalty takes away NFL record

ST. LOUIS — Devin Hester and Craig Steltz walked together from the field, through the tunnel and to a losing locker room Sunday, quietly chatting as they went.

The subject of their discussion was the play that could’ve — perhaps should’ve — turned this ugly game around but didn’t.

In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, with the Bears trailing 27-14, Hester took a punt back 62 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a holding penalty on Steltz nullified what would’ve been his 20th career punt or kickoff return. It would’ve broken the NFL record he shares with Deion Sanders.

For Bears fans — especially the tens of thousands at the Edward Jones Dome — it was the most exciting and the most disappointing play of the game.
For Steltz, a longtime Bears special-teams standout, it also was confusing.

“I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “I don’t know what I did. I didn’t [notice] anything.”

According to Hester, Steltz told him the Ram deemed to have been held actually fell on his own. The Bears wound up scoring on a 72-yard drive anyway, but the drive chewed up about half of the quarter. On an afternoon full of letdowns and screw-ups for the Bears, Steltz’s penalty was as damaging as any.

Perhaps damaging to Hester’s legacy, too, if it turns out we’ve seen his last glorious run-back.

“Nah, man,” Hester said. “It’s not the first one I’ve gotten called back. And it’s not going to be the last one.”

What did Hester tell Steltz as they made their way to the locker room?

“He just told me to keep my head up because we block our butts off for him every time,” Steltz said. “He’s the greatest of all time.”

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