Almost the return of magnificent six for Bears’ Hester

Oh, so close.

Seemingly lost in all the commotion Sunday was Hester’s best punt return of the season.

Hester returned a line-drive punt from Brett Kern 44 yards to the Titans’ 8, setting up Matt Forte’s touchdown run. Kern was able to slow Hester as Jamie Harper made the tackle and prevented him from ending his TD-return drought.

Nonetheless, it was Hester’s longest punt return in 2012. He entered the game averaging 7.3 yards. Hester remains one touchdown shy of tying Deion Sanders for the most combined return TDs.

“[It was] very important for Devin to get off and the rest of the group,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “We’ve been close a couple of times. We feel like we’ve had a couple of opportunities where we could’ve broken a big one, but it’s just a matter of time with Devin Hester before we would be able to do it.”

On Hester’s 44-yard return, the Bears used two blockers on each of the Titans’ gunners. Hester last returned a punt for a touchdown Nov. 13, 2011, against the Lions.

Smith, though, said Hester’s history definitely played a role in a blocked punt.

“No doubt it does,” Smith said. “Just having Devin back there does so much, period. You look last week, the field position we were able to get [when the Panthers used squib kicks]. Guys worrying about getting down there and covering as opposed to protecting, all of that comes into play when you have the greatest returner of all time back there.”

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