Watch out Devin Hester, Jacoby Ford and Joshua Cribbs -- big Dan Connolly is about to revolutionize the art of returning kickoffs.
Immediately after unheralded Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn increased his team's lead to 17-7 on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, the 6-foot-4, 313-pound right guard scooped up Mason Crosby's squib kick on the ensuing kickoff. He wrapped both of his arms around the ball as he slowly pushed ahead to try and get a few extra yards, then made a cut to his right and turned on the afterburners for a 71-yard return all the way down to the Packers' 4.
It didn't take long for the Elias Sports Bureau to confirm that Connolly's return was the longest in NFL history by an offensive lineman, which means the man used to only hearing his name called after he was caught holding will get to keep that football in a special place.
Two plays later, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady capitalized on the eye-popping moment by completing a 2-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez with 1:08 remaining in the first half. That allowed New England to go into the locker room trailing by just a field goal instead of 10 points.
But no matter what happened from that point on, Connolly's epic display of speed and grace by one of the big men in the trenches was destined to be the talk of the game. He even threw a stiff arm as he closed in on the end zone, with the ball firmly wrapped in his left arm like a loaf of bread.
Check it out below: