Devin Hester, the NFL’s most dynamic return man, has yet to score a return touchdown this season and the Bears see a good opportunity against a team that has struggled on special teams.
“I think when you go into the game against the Bears, you can’t let Devin Hester score,” said ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico.
“Not only has he scored a lot, he has scored a lot on Monday nights. He loves the prime time spotlight.”
The Lions became the first team in NFL history to give up a punt return and kick return touchdown in back-to-back games in losses at Tennessee and against Minnesota, Weeks 3 and 4.
Those scores proved to be the difference in both games.
“When Hester scores (the Bears) usually win,” said Tirico. “It’s so hard, as the Lions have experienced firsthand this year, that you almost can’t make up for a special teams score.
“Yes, everything’s important in a football game, but to me that’s an X-factor that you have to control when you play Chicago.”
Detroit is hoping it has left its special teams woes in the dust, however.
The team rebounded last week, containing Philadelphia returners Marty Gilyard, DeSean Jackson and Brandon Boykin.
The Eagles gained just 12 net yards on three punt returns and averaged 24.4 yards on five kickoff returns, with their drives averaging a start on the 25-yard line.
Hester is a different animal, however.
The seventh-year veteran owns the NFL record for total kick return touchdowns with 17 and career punt return touchdowns with 12.
After throwing in a 108-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown, Hester is just one away from tying Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for most return touchdowns in a career with 19.
Against the Lions, Hester has had success, but not too much.
He has one punt return touchdown and one kick return touchdown against Detroit, in 2011 and 2007, respectively.
“He’s just so elusive,” said special teams captain
“We’re taught to take a shot, but he does such a good job of waiting until the final moment until he can make guys miss. He’s a guy where you hope the first guy can make him stop his feet long enough so the second guy can get him.”
It will be vital that Detroit’s young group of specialists doesn’t forget who they are up against when pursuing Hester.
Taking him down won’t be as simple as taking down other NFL return men.
“You don’t really have a lot of time to make a lot of moves,” said three-time Pro Bowler
“You have to get down there fast before he gets started. He’s a guy that has quick acceleration, so you can’t give him a lot of space.”
The Lions are hoping Osgood will have a repeat performance of a week ago, when he made a 3-yard tackle-for-loss on Eagles’ returner DeSean Jackson.
Philadelphia had plugged Jackson in with just one minute to go in the half, hoping that he would spring a big return for a quick score.
Containing Hester the same way the Lions were able to contain Jackson, Gilyard and Boykin will be crucial to Detroit winning Monday’s game.
The Bears are 13-3 when Hester scores a return touchdown.
“(Last week’s performance is) something to build on,” said Wendling. “We can’t be satisfied with it, of course. There are still a lot of things we need to work on.
“We just have to go up from here. We can’t slack off or lose a step.”