In a season in which Andre' Davis, Joshua Cribbs, and Leon Washington made some spectacular returns, no one could match Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears.

By running back a punt 64 yards for a touchdown yesterday, Hester not only demolished the New Orleans Saints' playoff hopes, but also set an NFL record for combined kickoff-punt TD returns in a season, six. He broke his own record, five, set last year as a rookie.

That's not counting his 108-yard return of a missed field goal last year or his Super Bowl TD return against the Colts. And then there are his scores on offense, including a 55-yard catch from Kyle Orton yesterday.

Davis, for his part, returned consecutive kickoffs (97, 104) for scores yesterday for the Texans, while Cribbs had a 76-yard punt return for the Browns. Both finished the season with three TD returns, as did the Jets' Washington.

All told, 25 kickoffs (a record) and 17 punts were returned for scores in 2007, none by the Eagles.

Eagles alumni.

Former Birds backups Clinton Hart (Chargers), Rod Hood (Cardinals), and Al Harris (Packers) combined for 12 interceptions this season. The Eagles had a team total of 11.

Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter made his first start yesterday for the playoff-bound Buccaneers, and registered eight tackles.

Local hero.

Texans running back Ron Dayne (Overbrook) carried 21 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns as Houston beat Jacksonville. He finished the year with 773 rushing yards, his best total in eight NFL seasons.

Injured in East Rutherford.

Three people remained hospitalized after being hurt when an escalator malfunctioned Saturday night at Giants Stadium after the Patriots edged the Giants, 38-35.

There were seven total injuries.

The escalator at Gate A apparently failed at the bottom steps, state police Lt. Jim Crann said. He said it appeared that some bottom steps became bent, causing foot and leg injuries.

Hurt during Saturday's game were four Giants: S Craig Dahl, CB Sam Madison, C Shaun O'Hara, and LB Kawika Mitchell. Dahl is out, and the other three are uncertain for Sunday's playoff game against the Buccaneers.

At least he's consistent.

The Dolphins pulled rookie QB John Beck three weeks ago when his fumble was returned for a Buffalo TD. Yesterday, on his first play since, he fumbled and the football was returned for six points by the Bengals' Chinedum Ndukwe.

Top tight end.

The Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez broke the NFL record for receptions by a tight end, catching No. 816 in the third quarter against the Jets. Shannon Sharpe (1990-2003) held the old mark. Gonzalez finished at 820.

Tackling machine.

The 49ers' Patrick Willis was credited with 12 tackles against the Browns, giving the rookie linebacker 174 this season, according to The Broncos' D.J. Williams was a distant second, with 141.


"Suffice to say, it's over for me," said the 49ers' Bryant Young as the defensive end ended his 14-year career. A holdover from the Steve Young-Jerry Rice days, he played in four Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl.

End quote.

"It's been a great ride," said the Panthers' Vinny Testaverde after the 44-year-old quarterback went out for one final snap with 35 seconds left in the season and took a knee.

- Compiled by David Cohen