LONDON — It is not surprising no Patriots player was more heartily embraced by fans here in the United Kingdom, nor seemed to have more fun in London than Rob Gronkowski.
In New England’s 45-7 win over the Rams Sunday, Gronkowski had a game-high eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, and delighted the capacity crowd at Wembley Stadium with his thunderous spikes.
But he added a bit to both — on the first, he held the ball and marched a bit, trying to resemble one of the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace. On the second, he sort of looked like he was churning butter, with a lot of extra hip action.
Of the first celebration Gronkowski said, “You know the little Nutcracker dude that is guarding the house?”
A reporter said, “Buckingham Palace?”
“Yeah, guarding the palace. I like how he sits there and stays still. It’s pretty cool. I give that one credit to Chandler [Jones] — he told me to do it.”
Gronkowski didn’t explain the second one, though he did say it was Deion Branch’s idea.
On Saturday, during an NFL fan rally in Trafalgar Square, the crowd began chanting for Gronkowski to spike the microphone after addressing the crowd, and he did — thunderously.
He said that one was his favorite of the weekend.
The eight receptions tied a career high, and his second 100-yard game of the season marked the eighth of his career. Franchise Hall of Famer Ben Coates had nine 100-yard receptions in his career, the team record for a tight end.
Gronkowski was remarkably open on several of his catches, and the Rams seemed to be ill-prepared for what he could do as a receiver.
“We knew going in he’s tough,” Rams safety Quintin Mikell said. “He’s a big guy, pretty much has a catch radius out of this world. He’s going to get his plays, we just wanted to minimize his plays and we didn’t do that today.
“I myself a couple of times was in position and Tom [Brady] got it in there and that’s on me. I have to have better eyes. I’m going to work on that and we have to get back to the drawing board.”
Gronkowski has been listed with a hip injury for a few weeks and has been limited in practice, and though he had a big day, he was still stretching his back on the sideline and was taken out of the game here and there.
“Just working hard every week,” Gronkowski said of his health.
“However I feel it doesn’t matter. I’m just out there at the game and playing.
“You’ve just got to give it 100 percent when you’re out there.”
A hot spot
Something about London agrees with Brandon Lloyd.
The receiver had just two catches against St. Louis but both went for touchdowns, his second and third scores as a member of the Patriots.
In 2010 as a Bronco, Lloyd had seven catches for 169 yards and a touchdown when Denver played San Francisco in London.
The veteran didn’t know what it is that he likes about playing at Wembley Stadium.
“The first time we didn’t win,” he said. “This time we won, so I think that’s what it really comes down to.
“But I really appreciate the pageantry that Wembley has to offer and the UK’s attitude toward professional athletes. It feels good playing in front of the fans out here.”
The Patriots’ offense was much smoother than in recent weeks, and Lloyd believes that it can play that way all the time.
“I think when we do a good job of not doing things that are detrimental to our success — penalties, dropped passes, interceptions — when we don’t do those things it gives us a better chance of scoring,” he said.
“That’s what we focused on all week. We talked about having 60 minutes of good football. Not great football, not the best football we’ve ever played in our lives, just 60 minutes of good football, and we did that.”
It was also an improved showing for Lloyd compared with last week against the Jets when he was targeted eight times and had just one reception for 6 yards.
Stevan Ridley got back to his big-yardage ways, with 127 yards on just 15 carries, an average of 8.5 yards. He added a touchdown just before halftime.
“The offensive line did a tremendous job. The creases they were giving me were big,” Ridley said of his fourth 100-yard game of the season. “I can’t do this by myself. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.”
The Patriots set an NFL record, recording their 17th consecutive regular-season game with at least 350 yards of offense, a run that began last year against the Giants in Week 9.
To establish the record, they had to rack up yardage against the franchise they entered the game tied with: St. Louis.
The “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams had a 16-game streak of 350 yards-plus over the 1999-2000 seasons.Continued...