Dan Connolly’s incredible kickoff return for the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers remains one of the funniest moments in NFL history.
Life can sometimes be a little bit tedious as an offensive lineman, stood on the line of scrimmage, getting thumped on pretty much every play and not getti g to touc the ball unless you have to dive on a fumble by a teammate.
There might be the odd occasion where those with good enough hands can find themselves in a ‘tackle eligible’ play where they can trick the opposing defence, come out of nowhere and catch the ball, but even then those aren’t exactly commonplace in the league.
So when you get your chance in the spotlight, it’s pretty imperative that you take your opportunity and run with it, and that’s exactly what Connolly did for the Patriots against the Packers back in 2010.
Kickoffs are arguably one of the more exciting plays in football whenever someone brings it back for a big return, but for a big return you tend to have someone small and quick that can evade tacklers with ease, which is how guys like Devin Hester managed to make a career out of it:
And that’s exactly who the Patriots had on the field at that time in the form of Brandon Tate, who had already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that season in weeks 1 and 4.
And with the Packers holding a lead of 17-7 with just over two minutes left in the half, they didn’t want to run the risk of a game-altering play from Tate, so decided to squib kick to make sure he didn’t get the ball.
The ball instead fell to Dan Connolly, all 6’4, 305lbs of him, the starting right guard for the Patriots on the day, who picked the ball up, wrapped it up and barrelled forward, somehow evading a number of tacklers and taking the ball back 71 yards to the Packers’ 4-yard line, much to the enjoyment of all those that saw it happen:
The Packers wanted to avoid kicking it to Brandon Tate.— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) November 4, 2018
Little did they know their squib kick would end up in the hands of electric return man Dan Connolly.
(Dec. 19, 2010) @Patriots #GBvsNE pic.twitter.com/xIghxeE3VV
The Patriots would score soon after that play and go on to win the game 31-27, so Connolly’s run, a record kickoff return for an offensive lineman, clearly had a big impact on the game, but it left an even bigger mark in history and in NFL folklore.