FOXBORO -- Dan Connolly didn't get to celebrate much after becoming setting an NFL record for offensive linemen by returning a kickoff 71 yards against Green Bay on Dec. 19. Soon afterward, he suffered a concussion.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since that game, after missing nearly a month of action, Connolly said today: "I'm healthy now. I'm back at practice and I'm ready to move on."
The Packers kicked the punt in Connolly's direction because they didn't want to give Brandon Tate, a dangerous returner who has returned two kicks for touchdowns this season, a chance to make a big play.
"I just saw the ball, grabbed it," said Connolly. "I was planning on just getting what I could, but it ended up being a lot more than I thought. Nobody hit me.
"I think it gave the team the energy, and the spark we needed to get the game back in our favor."
Connolly was fully prepared to return the kick as the Patriots practiced him returning kicks in practice.
"It's something that I've been faced with, I'd say, three times this year, and once last year," said Connolly. "We don't work on it that regularly, but we have worked on it before."
Connolly said he received a lot of calls and emails from friends and family after his big return, which led to him being named the AFC special teams player of the week.
"I was excited just about the play happening," said Connolly. "Honestly, the last thing on my mind was being upset that I didn't score. I am completely honored to hold a record in the league like this and the special teams player of the week was just icing on the cake."
Connolly said that it was "cool" to obtain the honors, but when asked if the return was the best moment of his life, he said: "I'd say the birth of my first daughter was probably my best moment."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that Connolly has been one of the Patriots' most consistent players.
"Dan is one of those guys that he's so, so consistent, I don't want to say that you take him for granted, but in a way you kind of do," Belichick said. "He's always there. He's a very intelligent player. A very football-smart, savvy player. He makes a lot of good football decisions on the field, adjustments, those kind of things. He's been doing it for long time for us. I know that every vet has a lot of confidence in Dan, his teammates on the line, the guys playing behind him in the backfield, the coaches.
"Like I said, he's there every day, performs at a very consistent level and a high level, both run and pass, blitz pickup, adjustments, all those things. So he's been solid for us and it's always a plus at the offensive line position to have that kind of consistency and continuity. He's provided it."