Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski single-handedly got his team out of its early offensive funk tonight, hauling in a 52-yard touchdown pass -- the longest of his career -- to put the Patriots up 7-3 with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter. But it was Gronk's second touchdown catch (above) that got all the attention after the game.
With 10:27 left in the third quarter, Gronkowski caught a pass from Tom Brady, straddled the sideline, and hurtled his way into the endzone, leaping end-over-end up and over his defender for his 10th touchdown catch of the season. Gronkowski looked to be shaken up on the play, though he did have the wherewithal to spike the ball hard into the turf in the back right corner of the end zone.
"He runs hard, he’s a tough guy to bring down, and you get him out in the open and he's a tough guy to tackle," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "He's done a good job for us all year."
Gronkowski walked back to the bench under his own power after the play and later returned to the game, but in the Patriots locker room after the game reporters wondered about the tight end's health and about what he was discussing with team trainers on the field after the play.
“They were just asking me questions like they got to and if I was fine and everything," said Gronkowski. "I was fine. I just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit, so I mean you know how that is when it happens.”
Said Brady, "I found Rob and he did the rest."
Belichick said he was attracted to Gronkowski in college because the tight end was the complete package.
"Speed, size, blocking, yeah," said Belichick. "He works hard, tough kid. He likes football. He’s got a lot of things going for him. He just missed a year of football and lacked a little bit of experience, so you don’t know exactly where a guy like that is going to get to, but he’s a talented player."