Welcome to the Gun Show.
In the Patriots 45-0 win over the Chargers, a lot was working, and with a strong showing from special teams, Gunner Olszewski's performance stole the show. After his touchdown on a punt return was called back against the Cardinals due to a blindside block, Olszewski turned out against the Chargers.
He ran a punt back 70 yards for the touchdown, ran a total of 145 yards on punt returns, caught his first touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter and even made a tackle on special teams -- something he was quick to point out to media after the game. In his effort, Olszewski joins Julian Edelman, Irving Fryar and Mike Haynes as the only players in Patriots history to return a punt for a touchdown and catch a pass for a touchdown in the same game.
It was a hell of a day for the kid from Bemidji State University, and his teammates did not contain their excitement.
"Happy for him, obviously. His career is not the classic way of an NFL career given where he came from .... Gunner's worked extremely hard and overcome a lot," Coach Bill Belichick said after the game. "He's not a big guy, but he's got a big heart and he plays hard."
Damien Harris shared a picture of his and Olszewski's celebration on Instagram after the game, and he couldn't hold back in his press conference just how happy he was for his teammate and his friend.
"I think the football gods decided to reward him today because it was pretty unfortunate that his touchdown got called back last week. Gunner's a guy that, he works so hard he does whatever the team needs him to do," Harris said. "I mean, he's been asked to play special teams, offense. I'm sure if we asked him to play defense that he'd be more than willing to go out there and do it. having him go out there and have the success that he had today, I'm so happy for him. I can't even put into to words."
Cam Newton joked that Olszewski's performance might earn him both offensive and special teams player of the week honors, but made it a point to stress how far he has come, especially in light of his return being called back against the Cardinals. Instead of letting it get to him, Olszewski powered through again this week.
"I think this game was important just to see the maturation of him over the weeks," Newton said.
N'Keal Harry echoed that and said it was great to see his hard work pay off in the game.
"Well, he deserves it. Today he reaped what he's been sowing," Harry said. "He's been doing literally everything possible to have success in the game. I'm just glad everything come to fruition for him today."
Special teams captain Matthew Slater said they had all the confidence that Olszewski could make an impact.
"He's becoming a really dependable, very confident player. He's a difference-maker," Slater said. "We've felt that way all season ... It was really exciting to see him go out and make plays today and really help this team in a fantastic effort today."
While his teammates on the sidelines were pumped for Olszewski, those watching from home turned to social media to share their pride in his performance Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Matt LaCosse and Pat Chung all tweeted about his day.
The road to get here wasn't always easy for Olszewski. Coming up to the NFL from a Division II football program, dealing with injuries and fighting for playing time, when asked how he managed to stay positive through it all, his answer was simple.
"Well, I get to wake up everyday and play football," Olszewski said.