Eagles Play It Safe With Bears' Hester
PHILADELPHIA--Finally, a team playing the Chicago Bears resolved that it wasn't going to be beaten by return man extraordinaire Devin Hester.
The Philadelphia Eagles' special teams did all they could Sunday to keep the ball out of Hester's hands on kick returns. Kicker David Akers popped up short kickoffs, usually landing around the 25-yard line. Punter Sav Rocca angled his punts far, far out of bounds, and averaged only 33 yards per punt.
Hester never touched the ball on a return, and the Bears had only 26 return yards in the entire game--all of them on four kickoff returns. They had zero punt return yards.
The strategy worked, to a degree. Rocca's best punt came when he put the ball out of bounds on the Bears 3-yard line with less than two minutes to play and the Eagles leading, 16-12. But the Bears went 97 yards and won, 19-16, on a touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Griese to wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad with nine seconds left.
Bears Coach Lovie Smith said he expects some future opponents to take the same approach with Hester.
"That's something we'll have to live with," Smith said.
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