Colquitt Frustrates Chicago’s Hester

From Soldier Field, Chicago

It was a small measure of revenge on the mind of Dustin Colquitt as he prepared last week for Sunday’s game against the Bears.

So important was Colquitt’s ability to kick the ball and keep it out of the hands of Chicago’s All-Word returner Devin Hester that he did not want to talk to reporters.

“Not this week,” Colquitt said on Wednesday. “I don’t want to get fined and there are some things I probably shouldn’t say that I would.”

Like how important this game was to him personally. Four years ago, Hester got a piece of Colquitt’s hide with a 72-yard punt return touchdown. It’s one of those things that punters don’t forget. They always know the guys who broke one of their kicks back for a touchdown.

Revenge was granted to Colquitt with an excellent day of punting. The statistics do not indicate how a marvelous day, but then it’s hard to quantify on a line of numbers the Hester effect.

“Our plan was just to make him uncomfortable, to keep changing up on him, but mostly to not give him a chance to make a return,” Colquitt said. “With one exception, we did that.”

That exception was a 44-yard punt return that set up the Bears only points of the game, that came through a field goal.

Overall, Hester returned just three punts, taking one back for 44, and . He had one fair catch, four more were downed by the Chiefs, two went out of bounds and one was for a touchback.

It was an afternoon where Colquitt’s gross average was 40.6 yards and his net was 35.3 yards. While those numbers are not anywhere near his career bests, it left Hester exasperated. On those 11 punts, he wasn’t able to catch but two on the fly and one of those he fumbled, but was able to recover the ball. The worst thing a punt returner can do is allow the ball to hit the ground, and Hester kept signaling for fair catches, but then watching the ball bounce on the ground.

“That was fine with us,” said Colquitt. “We’ll take that every time against a guy like him.”

The key for Colquitt was hang time. He gave up distance for keeping the ball in the air and his coverage until did a good job of getting in Hester’s field of vision so he would throw up the arm signaling the fair catch.

“Coach and Hoff (Todd Haley and special teams coach Steve Hoffman) gave us a plan and we stuck to it,” said Colquitt. “We only had that one slip and the plan worked.”

Here’s how the 11 punts by Colquitt went down:

  1. Punt traveled 42 yards and was downed by CB Jalil Brown at the Chicago 18. Hester did not touch the ball.
  2. Colquitt got his leg into this one, as he flew 53 yards to the Chicago 5-yard line, where it was downed by Brown; again no touch by Hester.
  3. Late in the first quarter, the punt went for 36 yards and was downed by DE Allen Bailey. Hester did not have his hands on it.
  4. Early in the second quarter, the punt went for 51 yards. Hester returned it 44 yards before he was tackled by Colquitt and Jackie Battle at the 50-yard line.
  5. Punt traveled 30 yards before going out of bounds at the Bears 36-yard line.
  6. This boot went out of bounds after traveling 33 yards.
  7. Early in the fourth quarter, Colquitt’s kick went 39 yards. Hester caught the punt, but muffed it, fumbling at the Bears 33-yard line where he was able to recover.
  8. This one went 35 yards and drew a fair catch by Hester.
  9. Another punt downed by the Chiefs cover team for 35 yards.
  10. Colquitt got his leg into this one, as it traveled 51 yards where Hester grabbed it off the bounce but was knocked down for minus-5 yards on the return.
  11. Last but not least, he punted 42 yards into the end zone with 13 seconds to play.

In the end, Hester had three punt returns for a total of 39 yards per return. He added one kickoff return for 23 yards. For the most explosive returner in NFL history, it was an easy-to-forget day.

But one that Dustin Colquitt will remember a long time.

“I don’t know if we are even, but it sure feels better,” Colquitt said.


One Response to “Colquitt Frustrates Chicago’s Hester”

  • December 5, 2011  - Michael says:

    Considering the number of chances he got, I would say you guys are even. Great Job!

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