How Connolly stepped to the 4

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke with reporters this afternoon and one aspect of his news conference that stood out was when he was asked about offensive lineman Dan Connolly.

Connolly, of course, was under the spotlight at the start of the season as Logan Mankins' replacement at left guard.

In three games, Connolly has held his own on the line.

But Belichick noted that Connolly's impact has stretched beyond his play at left guard, and he used the four-play stretch at the end of the first half against the Bills -- when the Patriots had a 32-yard kickoff return, passing plays of 29 and 13 yards, and a 43-yard field goal in a span of 19 seconds-- to make his point.

"Kickoff return, he’s right at the point of attack on the wedge, and then the two pass plays [at left guard], and then a field goal where they overloaded the rush and came right over his side. [He was] the only guy really that was on the field for all four of those plays was kind of right at the point of attack on all four of them," Belichick explained. "That was a big series in the game.

"Dan is a versatile player. He works hard. He’s a real smart guy. I think he has really improved over the time he’s been here. He came from a real small school (Southeast Missouri State), but his whole career he has improved. Dante [Scarnecchia] has coached him well. He's blended in with the offensive line. Those guys work together pretty well as a unit. I think he’s made a nice career and he's steadily improved in all phases of the game. I know you guys only care about the offensive line, but really in the kicking game and all that too, really it’s all important."