Prolific speedster Devin Hester helped spark the Bears during a win over Minnesota on Sunday, further elevating his status as the best return man in the history of the game.

Prolific speedster Devin Hester helped spark the Bears during a win over Minnesota on Sunday, further elevating his status as the best return man in the history of the game.

Hester needed only one move (and that burst to the open field that he has) to break free for a 98-yard kickoff return in the third quarter that gave the Bears a 33-10 lead Sunday. Hester now has a league-record 16 total return touchdowns, including five on kickoffs. His last five returns for touchdowns, and seven of his previous eight, were on punt returns.

He nearly broke free on the punt that came shortly after his kickoff return as well, rumbling 24 yards before frustratingly jogging out of bounds as the kicker slowed him down. Hester averaged 53.5 yards per kick return in Sunday’s win, and had five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown as an offensive weapon. He left the game in the third quarter with a chest injury but appeared to be fine on the sidelines.

Peppers plays, and stars
Defensive end Julius Peppers did not practice all week with a sprained knee and was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. He played, however, and played well. Peppers registered two sacks, three tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits through three quarters of action, and showed no signs of being hobbled. Peppers had his best game of the season after entering the game with two sacks on the year.

Cutler shines in win
Bear quarterback Jay Cutler completed 20 of his 28 passes and threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns; and that was just through three quarters of play Sunday night. Chicago led 36-10 after three quarters, and Cutler had a 122.8 QB rating by then.

Veteran Harris inactive
After being demoted from first team to second team this week, veteran safety Chris Harris was inactive for Sunday’s game against the Vikings. He was benched in favor of second-year player Major Wright, and rookie Chris Conte started at free safety instead of Brandon Meriweather.

Wright and Conte were never burned deep Sunday, while Harris and Meriweather were (twice) last week against the Lions. Conte had five tackles and Wright three by the time the Bears stretched the lead to 39-10 early in the fourth quarter.

Williams starts at WR
Johnny Knox moved ahead of Roy Williams on the wide receiver depth chart a month ago, but it was Williams on the field for the first series of Sunday night’s game. In fact, it was Williams’ 17-yard reception on the second play of the game that got the offense off on the right foot. The 48-yard TD pass to Hester on the next play helped out in that regard as well. Chicago led 36-10 through three quarters, with Knox (2-41) and Williams (2-34) helping the cause.

Rockford (Ill.) Register Star reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or jtaft@rrstar.com.