From Peter King in MMQB...
The latest chapter of the Book of Brady starts with a strange character, one who didn’t play or coach Sunday and was getting roasted for sitting the game out: Rob Gronkowski.
We all thought the Gronk story was over when the pre-game shows finished filleting the man and his strange habit of practicing like an Olympian decathlete during the week and then sitting on the couch to watch the game, not play in it. But it turns out he had a very big role in this game, after all. Troy Aikman, early in the second quarter of the Saints-Patriots game on FOX, gave us a pretty big clue with the blanket coverage of Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib shutting out New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham to that point.
“You mentioned Rob Gronkowski and his situation,’’ Aikman said to partner Thom Brennaman, referring to Gronk being inactive for the sixth straight week with his mystery forearm injury. “One of the, I guess, positives that comes with that is he ran scout team all week. So the Patriots couldn’t have gotten a better look for having to face Jimmy Graham this week than what Rob Gronkowski showed them … When Bill Belichick decides he’s going to take someone out of the game, he does it as well as anybody. The key coming into this game for New England was trying to slow down and eliminate Jimmy Graham. That has happened.’’
As if on cue, the Saints snapped the ball two seconds later, with 12:44 left in the second quarter, and Graham ran a 10-yard cross on 3rd-and-10 from the Saints’ 23. Drew Brees fired it to him, with Talib in tight coverage. Graham had the ball in his hands, and Talib hammered it out. Incomplete.
I sensed Aikman was onto something, brilliant football mind that I am.
Brady confirmed it in his email.
“All of us have seen how badly Rob wants to help us win,’’ Brady wrote. “He has definitely given all he could in practice, especially on the scout teams to replicate the other teams’ best receiver. Though they may seem insignificant during the week, they are a huge reason why teams win.’’