FOXBORO, Mass. — Kyle Arrington's family typically makes the trip to every single one of his home games.
On the day he made his first career start, though, they had to stay back in Maryland because his mother is having minor surgery early Monday morning. Arrington, a special teams ace, started over Darius Butler at right cornerback Sunday for the Patriots, who won a 38-30 shootout against the Bills at Gillette Stadium.
All things considered, Arrington played a pretty solid game. He played in all but a few of the Patriots' 53 defensive plays, and he also took every snap on special teams. The Hofstra product broke up a pass to Lee Evans in the end zone in the second quarter — Arrington called it the high point of his afternoon — and also registered three tackles (two solo).
"Kyle has been practicing well, so we thought we'd give him an opportunity," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "Early in the game, he made a couple plays, so we kind of stayed with it."
Arrington took extended reps with the starting defense last week at practice, and he found out late Friday that he'd make the start. While his parents couldn’t be in attendance, it sounds like they threw a block party in his honor.
"Better believe they had the whole neighborhood watching back in Maryland," Arrington said. "My dad said every TV in the house was on."
Arrington lined up against Buffalo wide receivers Lee Evans and Steve Johnson, but the Bills didn’t beat Arrington until there was one minute remaining in the third quarter. That’s when they went to Arrington's side of the field on three consecutive plays and picked up 49 yards.
Other than that, Arrington held his own in coverage.
"I just wanted to go out and do my job, do what was asked of me," Arrington said. "I felt like I kind of made a couple plays early. Therefore, it was a little easier for me to relax and be into the game. I thank the coaches for trusting me and leaving me out there."
Arrington, who got some "great words of encouragement" from injured cornerback Leigh Bodden prior to the game, was full bore during the Patriots' first three defensive series. After that, the coaching staff subbed in Butler, but he had a tough series of plays and got replaced by Arrington, who played the rest of the game.
He said he had to overcome an early bout of nerves before settling down and getting into a groove. But, because he was able to start the game in his comfort zone — covering the opening kickoff — Arrington was able to squash the nerves with relative ease.
"It's funny because deep inside you kind of get butterflies a little bit, especially making your debut as a starting defensive player," Arrington said. "My dad asked me the same thing, 'Are you ready? Are your nervous or anything?' I would tell him, 'Just another day at the office.' A little bit [nervous], but after the opening kickoff, I was OK."