Patriots veteran special teamer Matthew Slater scores first career TD after blocked punt vs. Bills

Matthew Slater has played a vital role as a veteran leader for the New England Patriots over the course of his 12-year career. But one thing he’s never done is score a touchdown.

Well, after a long career in New England and 160 games, Slater finally checked off that milestone after returning a blocked punt for an 11-yard score in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills. The score put the Patriots up 13-0 over the AFC East rival Bills, a game New England eventually held on to win, 16-10.

Slater has been a special teams ace for the Patriots, making the Pro Bowl seven times as a gunner. He’s rarely touched the football, though, with only 35 career kick returns and three offensive touches. Slater’s biggest offensive play was a 46-yard reception in 2011 that moved the Patriots to the Dolphin’s 24 yard line in Week 1 of the season.

For someone who’s been a huge part of the Patriots on and off the field for the past 12 years, no one was more deserving of an NFL touchdown than Slater. Besides being the Patriots’ special teams captain throughout his career, Slater is also one of the more philosophic players in the league. He’s a United Way representative for the Patriots, helping recruit volunteers in the greater Boston area, and he helped raise over $60,000 for Hurricane Matthew relief in 2016.

Slater’s touchdown is just another example of the Patriots’ dominating defensive performance this season. The defense has eight takeaways through 3 1/2 games and veteran safety Devin McCourty has four interceptions in as many games.

The Patriots now have three non-offensive touchdowns and are second in the league in scoring. They don’t have any trouble putting up points. But for Slater, this score will be something special.

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