CHICAGO (AP) – Devin Hester fielded the punt, and in a flash, the Chicago Bears were in control.
Hester scored on a 73-yard punt in the second quarter and set up a field goal in the third with another long return as the defending NFC champions beat the Kansas City Chiefs 20-10 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Cedric Benson did his part to dispel the notion he's soft, but Rex Grossman had another mediocre outing.
Benson carried 24 times for 101 yards, eight shy of his career high, after being held to 42 in last week's 14-3 season-opening loss at San Diego.
It was a different story for Grossman. He was 20-of-34 for 160 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off twice after passing for 145 yards against the Chargers.
The fans let Grossman hear it in the fourth quarter, when Donnie Edwards intercepted at the 43. The Chiefs (0-2) took over at the 25, but couldn't cut into a 20-10 lead.
Minutes after blocking a 48-yard field goal by Dave Rayner, the Bears came up big again. With the ball on the 16, Charles Tillman deflected a pass intended for Sammie Parker in the end zone and Danieal Manning intercepted.
The Bears (1-1) hung on from there.
Chicago was able to contain another star running back after shutting down LaDainian Tomlinson. This time it was Larry Johnson, who managed just 55 yards on 16 attempts.
Kansas City's Damon Huard wasn't much help, going 19-of-28 for 175 yards. He threw a touchdown and an interception before leaving late in the game for Brodie Croyle.
Lance Briggs forced a fumble and sacked Huard for Chicago. Brian Urlacher also got his first sack since 2005, but this was Hester's day.
LB Lance Briggs (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Bears were leading 7-0 when he caught Dustin Colquitt's punt at the 27. He cut to his left, sidestepped several Chiefs and got some big blocks on the way to the end zone. It was the seventh career touchdown return for Hester, who set an NFL record with six as a rookie last year. That doesn't include the opening kickoff he ran back against Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
His second big punt return was even more impressive, even though he didn't reach the end zone.
Hester caught the ball at midfield and sliced between two Chiefs and ran it back to the 19. That set up a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that made it 20-7.
Hester also had a 95-yard touchdown return negated by a holding penalty late in the third after the Rayner booted a 45-yard field goal to make it 20-10.
It was just what the defending NFC champions needed after that rough opener.
The Bears lost former Pro Bowl safety Mike Brown and starting defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek to season-ending knee injuries in that game, and they absorbed several verbal shots afterward.
One came from Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips, who called Benson soft. He certainly didn't look soft against Kansas City.
An offense that managed just 202 yards in the opener got going late in the first quarter, with Benson leading the way. He was physical and showed some finesse, leading the Bears on a touchdown drive that ended with Grossman's 2-yard pass to John St. Clair.
Besides Hester's 73-yard return, Gould kicked a 47-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 2:25 left in the first half. The Chiefs scored just over a minute later, when Huard connected with Dwayne Bowe on a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7.
For the Chiefs, Johnson simply couldn't find any room to run.
He blamed last week's 43-yard showing against Houston on his contract holdout, saying he was out of shape. But he was no better against a Bears defense that held Tomlinson to 25 yards.
Special Teams Key 20-10 Victory
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