FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that G Dan Connolly has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week by the National Football League for his performance in the Patriots' 31-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
Connolly is the second offensive lineman to ever be named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Oakland Raiders' T Langston Walker won the award in Week 12 of the 2004 season after blocking a field goal attempt.
Connolly returned a first-half kickoff 71 yards to the 4-yard line in the second quarter. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it is the longest kickoff return by an offensive lineman in NFL history. The run by Connolly topped the 48-yard touchdown return by Atlanta's Mal Snider in 1969. The previous longest kickoff return for a Patriots offensive lineman was a 27-yard return by G Stephen Neal on Nov. 30, 2008 vs. Pittsburgh. Connolly's previous best was a 16-yard return vs. Miami on Nov. 8, 2009. Connolly's return set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez that cut the Packers' lead to 17-14.
New England has now been honored four times with Player of the Week Awards in 2010. S James Sanders was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week following the Patriots 39-26 victory over Pittsburgh in Week 10. QB Tom Brady earned the award in back-to-back weeks, following the 45-24 win at Detroit in Week 12 and the 45-3 win vs. the Jets in Week 13.
Connolly's honor is the first Special Teams Player of the Week for New England since K Stephen Gostkowski was honored in Week 9 of the 2009 season.