The date was December 17th 2010, and the 11-2 New England Patriots found themselves trailing by 17-7 with two minutes to go until halftime against an 8-5 Green Bay Packers team that was without Aaron Rogers.
Needing any kind of spark, the Patriots found one from one of the most unlikely of sources in guard Dan Connolly.
At the 2:17 mark of the second quarter, the Packers had just scored on a Matt Flynn touchdown to Greg Jennings to go up 17-7 in Foxboro.
Following the score, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy decided to squib kick and the 300 pound Connolly ended up with the ball.
What happened next became one of the most improbable returns in the history of the NFL as Connolly suddenly rumbled 71-yards back down the field, nearly scoring in the process.
“It’s the loaf of bread carry”, NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth joked in disbelief. “That’s unbelievable!”
"Two things were in my mind. One, how winded I got. Two, do not fumble this damn ball because Bill is going to kill me if I do."
Ten years ago, Dan Connolly delivered the longest kick return in NFL history for an offensive lineman. pic.twitter.com/hHglsQFQwA
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) December 17, 2020
The return setup a Tom Brady touchdown to Aaron Hernandez that cut the Patriots deficit to three heading into halftime.
The Patriots would go on to win 31-27 in a classic back and forth affair.
Connolly’s return set an NFL record for the longest kickoff return by an offensive lineman in NFL history and he was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts.
“I’ve never seen anything happen so slow in my life,” Tom Brady said after the game. “They won’t be kicking to him anymore, I’ll tell you that.”
For more on Connolly’s memorable night, be sure to check out Jeff Howe’s piece featuring some reminiscing by his coaches and teammates on the anniversary.
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Tags: Dan Connolly Tom Brady