It's been three days since Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester saw his 70-yard punt return against the Arizona Cardinals negated, thanks to a facemask penalty called against the league's all-time returns leader. What would have been Hester's 21st-career return, giving the Falcons six points instead of a later field goal, was simply not meant to be.
"It was the wrong call on their part," Hester admitted after Atlanta's 29-18 victory. "You can see their punter put his hand in my facemask and ripped my mouth guard out. The call was made, and the game went on, so there was nothing we could do about it."
Despite the call, Hester still remains the only NFL player this season to post rushing, receiving and return touchdowns. His 1,362 combined-scrimmage yards are fifth most in the league. You don't get numbers like that without an immeasurable competitive drive, which made the facemask penalty that much more difficult to swallow.
Originally selected by the Chicago Bears in the 2006 NFL Draft, Hester was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent in March of 2014 and quickly became an asset on both offense and special teams.
On Wednesday, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong shared the advice he gave to his all-world returner after the penalty.
"You just move on," Armstrong said. "You get to the next play. You have to keep playing. We talked about some things on the sideline, but he was fine after the play. He knew it was what it was, but you just move on."
Hester has moved on and will face the Green Bay Packers Monday night for the 16th time in his career (regular season). He's logged one receiving touchdown and two punt-return scores against Green Bay.