Healthy Connolly talks kickoff return

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
12:34
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots guard Dan Connolly spoke to reporters today for the first time since his 71-yard kickoff return on Dec. 19 against the Packers, after having missed nearly the last month with a concussion he suffered in the game.

Connolly said he did not suffer the concussion on the return, but declined to speak further on his injury, saying "I'm healthy now. I'm back to practice. I'm moving on."

Even though the return seemed spontaneous to most fans, Connolly said it's something the team has practiced before.

"It's something that I've been faced with, I'd say, three times this year, and once last year," Connolly explained. "We don't work on it that regularly, but we have worked on it before."

Still, Connolly said the return, the longest by an offensive lineman in NFL history, wasn't the result he expected.

"I just saw the ball, grabbed it -- I was planning on just getting what I could, but it ended up being a lot more than that," he said. "Nobody hit me.

"I think it gave the team the energy, and the spark we needed to get the game back in our favor," he continued.

Connolly was asked jokingly by a reporter if it was the best moment of his life.

"No, I'm not going to say that," Connolly said with a smile. "I'd say the birth of my first daughter was probably my best moment."

Even so, the improbable return became one of the most recognizable highlights of the Patriots' regular season, leading to increased notoriety for the sixth-year veteran.

"From friends and family, I've gotten a lot of emails, lot of text messages," he said. "I guess my name is noticed more. I get a little more fan mail now than ever before."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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