Super Bowl Frenzy: Punter Hems In Hester

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Tim Masthay helped kick Devin Hester and the Chicago Bears right out of the playoffs.

Coming off an easy week in which he didn't have to punt a single time, Masthay was a major factor in the NFC championship game Sunday, constantly leaving the Bears with poor field position and shutting down their star kick returner.

Masthay averaged 41.8 yards on eight punts, but it was where they landed as much as far how far they traveled that made the difference in the Packers' 21-14 win.

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Following six of his punts Sunday, the Bears started drives on their own 16, 2, 11, 18, 20 and 10.

And Green Bay's coverage team hemmed in the dangerous Hester when he did field the ball. Hester, who holds the NFL record with 14 combined kickoff and punt returns for TDs, had just three punt returns for 16 yards total, the longest being 11. He also returned a kickoff for 24 yards.

Hester was never a force as a receiver, either. He was the target of four passes and didn't have a catch.

The Packers allowed Hester to break free for a 62-yard touchdown on a punt return during the teams' first meeting, a 20-17 Bears victory in Chicago on Sept. 27.

Masthay was certainly well rested. The Packers didn't need him last week in their 48-21 playoff romp at Atlanta.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)