HOUSTON — James Develin '10 admits that somewhere along the line over the last few months, he has thought about what he would do if he ever scored a touchdown for the New England Patriots.
He has not spent a lot of time thinking about it, though, seeing as though until Sunday, he had never even had a chance to carry the ball from the line of scrimmage in a regular-season game. As it turns out, Develin learned that it can happen so quickly that sometimes there is no chance to celebrate.
The Brown grad became one of the many heroes in the Pats' 34-31 decision over Houston on Sunday at Reliant Stadium when he got to live out his dream, minus the celebration part. The former all-Ivy defensive end for Brown, who played in the Arena League and UFL on his way to earning a berth in the NFL, scored on what will go down as one of the best one-yard runs anyone will score in the league this season.
Develin was hit by at least three players, and pushed away another guy or two, as he refused to go down and scored the first touchdown of the second half, pulling his team within 17-14. It was a special moment for the guy with an engineering degree.
"Honestly, I was kind of like in awe of the moment," he said. "Really, I didn't really get a chance to celebrate the touchdown. People were hugging me and I was still hanging on to the ball with two hands. I had some ideas for touchdown celebration, but I didn't get to do that. It came and went so fast. I'm just so glad it happened.
Someone who did not know his background asked if it was the toughest one-yard run he ever had. Develin smiled.
"I've never even run the ball except for a couple times in preseason," he responded. "It felt like a lifetime in about three or four seconds."
Develin, who was converted to fullback in the UFL, had caught two passes for the Patriots prior to Sunday but had never run the ball from scrimmage. He has been a regular on special teams but has seen only spot duty, almost exclusively as a blocker, on offense. When he saw the team's game plan for Sunday's game, Develin thought there was a possibility he might be asked to carry the ball.
"I maybe thought of it in the back of my mind," he said. "I knew I had to go in there and do what they asked of me, whether it be block on the goal line or run on the goal line. I'm thankful they gave me the ball and let me do my thing."
The touchdown was Develin's second carry of the day. He also got the ball earlier on a third-and-one.
"That was the same kind of thing, just kind of bore my head in there and get that yard," said the 6-foot-3 255-pounder. "Getting the ball as a fullback is kind of a one-and-done thing. You either get the job done or you're out waiting for the next opportunity."
Develin got it done and picked up the first down. Develin also caught a pass for a 12-yard gain. At one point, he was split out wide left, with a cornerback covering him.
"I try to run some good routes, but that's not really a fullback's job," he said. "I like to try and be more versatile when I can. When I'm running routes, I'm just trying to do the best I can."
Both coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady spoke about him after the game.
"James is a tough kid. He ran hard," Belichick said. "He's been dependable all year in the roles we've asked him to perform. He does a lot of dirty work. (He's a) tough, competitive guy. We need guys like that."
"He knows right where to go. He knows his job, his responsibility," Brady said. "They were matching us with some different personnel groupings. Whatever we've asked of him, he's done a great job of coming in, understanding what to do and doing a great job of it."
Develin said he is curious to see the replay of his touchdown. He did not know how many tacklers he fought off.
"I tried not to stop my legs and get in there. I could see the goal line," he said. "I don't know how many people I hit but I'm glad I got in."
Develin, who Brown coach Phil Estes called the toughest kid he's ever coached, savored the scene.
"It's a humbling experience coming from where I came from," he said. "To get here, it's a complete blessing. I'm thankful for everyone who helped me along the way. It's a special thing for me to be here and be able to do these things. I can't really put it into words how special it is."
Pictured: James Develin '10 scoring a TD vs. Houston. Providence Journal Photo