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.
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.