EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When he came out of the tunnel some 45 minutes before kickoff, it was the first time Rob Gronkowski had been seen on a football field wearing a Patriots uniform since Jan. 13.
He marked the occasion by accessorizing with a large black sleeve brace on his left arm, hoping to protect the forearm that broke twice in the past 11 months. The injuries led to four surgeries, and were the primary reason the star tight end had missed the first six games this season.
Anyone expecting Gronkowski to be rusty after so much time off would be disappointed. He caught eight passes for a game-high 114 yards, giving Tom Brady the consistently reliable red-zone target the offense has lacked. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.