BOSTON (CBS) — He isn’t always on the field, but Patriots rookie Chase Winovich always seems to make the most out of his opportunities.

Used primarily in pass-rush situations and on special teams, the third-round pick out of Michigan has been stuffing the stat sheet whenever he hits the field. He had another quarterback hit on Thursday night against the New York Giants, but that was not his biggest highlight in the New England win.

On Thursday night, Winovich scored his first career touchdown, and he did so in style.

Winovich was in the right place at the right time once again, scooping New England’s blocked punt out of the air in the first quarter and scooting six yards into the end zone to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. Brandon Bolden pushed pushed linebacker Nate Stupar back on Riley Dixon’s attempt, and the punter sent his kick into the back of Stupar’s helmet.

Winovich said that it felt like the ball was in the air forever, but he was able to snag it out of the night’s sky and scamper into the end zone. He told reporters after the game that it was his first touchdown since his days as a high school quarterback.

He may have gotten a little too carried away with his celebration, though. He fired the ball into the stands, which is a big no-no in the NFL. The rookie is facing a fine of just over $7,000 from the league, since they consider throwing the ball into the stands to be a safety risk.

Considering it had been so long since he had scored, Winovich said that he’s been planning his football toss for some time. That may have changed had he known it would cost him so much.

“I had been planning to throw it into the stands for a while. I didn’t know the fine was quite so … steep,” he admitted after the game. “But no regrets.”

He also no longer has a souvenir to remember the first time he found the end zone as a pro, but he didn’t seem to mind after New England’s 35-14 victory.

“Honestly, for me, it was more the experience of scoring a touchdown. That’s priceless. A football is a football; it’s cool to look back on it, but I have the film to look back on it,” he said. “The moment with my teammates in the end zone, celebrating, that’s priceless. No football can equate to that; that’s my personal opinion.

“When I found out about the fine in combination with the football, that might have hurt a little bit more,” he admitted, once again sporting his giant grin.

Winovich did add that he would be grateful if the fan returned the ball, but only time will tell if he gets it back. The way he’s been playing, even in his limited time on the field, chances are Winovich will have a few more footballs to keep as mementos.

And now he knows better than to throw them into the crowd.

 

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