For an instant, Devin Hester Sr. thought he spotted an opening that would allow him to add to his NFL records of 20 return touchdowns and 14 punt-return touchdowns. But just as quickly, that opening closed when he tripped over one of his teammates in the first quarter of the Ravens' eventual 19-14 win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"It's one of those instances where you're trying to get to the end zone and then you've got your teammates out there trying to block for you," the return specialist said. "Then you cross-face with each other, and I think that's what happened. But it's a sign of us getting better each and every week. We're taking a step forward, and that's the most important thing. We've still got a lot of games left, and hopefully, we'll get one in."
Forced to settle for a 28-yard punt return, Hester could take some solace in knowing that it is the longest punt return of his season thus far. It was also proof that he's healthy again. Hester had been bothered by muscle pulls on both sides of his groin, which limited his ability to field punts and move upfield. He said the pain and discomfort is gone.
"This could be the healthiest I've been since the season started," said Hester, who averaged 16.3 yards on three punt returns against Cincinnati, and 21.0 yards on three kickoff returns. "It feels natural, it feels strong. I can move the way I want to, and that plays a big part in the return."