FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - New England guard Dan Connolly's 71-yard kickoff return against Green Bay is believed to be the longest ever for an NFL offensive lineman.
According to STATS LLC, Connolly's rumble late in the second quarter Sunday night was the longest since 1976, when the league began keeping complete records. Detroit's Larry Tearry had a 30-yard return in 1978 that had been recognized as the longest since then. Atlanta's Mal Snider had a 48-yard return in 1969.
Connolly didn't score _ he was tackled from behind at the 4. But the Patriots scored a touchdown three plays later to trim their deficit to 17-14 and went on to a 31-27 victory.
The 6-foot-4, 313-pound Connolly fielded the ball at the Patriots 25 on a squib kick by Mason Crosby. Connolly cradled the ball in both arms preparing for a hit that never came.
He cut through a crease to the left, stiff-armed one defender who swiped at the ball at around the Packers 35, then sidestepped Crosby before going down at the 4.
"All I know is he looked faster than I am," Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez said with a smile after the game.
Connolly later left with a head injury.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.