Sat, Sep 20, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Devin Hester sets record as Atlanta thrash Buccaneers


Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester returns a punt for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at the Georgia Dome on Thursday.

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons punished Tampa Bay on the ground and through the air as they blasted the Buccaneers 56-14 on Thursday, with Devin Hester setting a record for touchdown returns.

The Falcons scored 21 points in the first quarter and grabbed a 35-0 lead by halftime at the Georgia Dome.

Hester scored two first-half touchdowns, the second of which was from a 62-yard punt return to set a NFL record with the 20th touchdown of his career from a kick return.

Hester danced his way into the end zone with his best impersonation of Deion Sanders, the Hall of Famer he passed to set the mark.

Sanders’ total includes interception returns, while Hester has reached the feat purely on special teams — including one return of a missed field goal for a score.

“It’s tough to break the record of the guy who is my No. 1 mentor,” Hester told reporters. “I’m kind of emotional right now.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, while the Falcons also got three rushing touchdowns and one interception return as they scored the game’s first 56 points.

Wide receiver Julio Jones had a banner night with 161 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“We had a tough loss last week. We needed to start fast and we were able to do that,” Ryan said. “When we’re out there and rolling we can be pretty good. The biggest thing for us is we need to be consistent week to week.”

The Buccaneers finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Mike Glennon tossed a score in relief of starter Josh McCown before linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted and returned it 27 yards for their second touchdown.

After finishing 4-12 last season, Tampa Bay were hoping to turn a corner this year with first-year head coach Lovie Smith.

Thus far the Buccaneers have not solved their woes as they have fallen to 0-3.

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