Top 10 moments from Gronk’s career

In lieu of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, I thought that it would be fun to take a look at some of his most memorable moments (both on and off the field) as a member of the Patriots.

1. 46-yard touchdown against the Bears (Week 8, 2014)

During this jaw-dropping play, Gronk truly showed why some of his teammates referred to him as ‘Beast Mode’, as he plowed his way through the hapless Bears’ defense en route to a 46-yard score.

2. Clutch catches against the Broncos (2016 AFC Championship Game)

Although the Broncos ultimately emerged victorious, Gronk almost carried the Patriots to Super Bowl 50 by himself, as he reeled in two clutch catches on fourth down, including a touchdown, which put the Pats in position to try a two-point conversion to tie the game (which would end up unsuccessful).

3. Throwing Sergio Brown ‘out of the club’ (Week 11, 2014)

This game against the Colts was very one-sided, as the Pats easily won 42-20. However, it did gain a lot of attention due to Gronk’s dedication towards finishing off a block on Colts safety Sergio Brown, long after the Pats had scored a rushing touchdown. As Gronk later told NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, Brown had been chirping throughout the game, which led the 6-foot-6 behemoth to toss the overmatched safety ‘out of the club’.

4. Sinking the Steelers at Heinz Field (Week 15, 2017)

For most of this contest, the Patriots’ offense was listless, and required a win against the Steelers in order to have a chance of securing the AFC’s #1 seed. When the Pats needed a spark, Gronk was there to provide it, as he caught 3 catches for 69 yards, along with a two-point conversion that helped the Pats escape Heinz Field with a win.

5. Touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIX

Gronk had 6 catches for 68 yards during the Patriots’ victory against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, with his major highlight being this 22-yard touchdown, where he easily beat Seattle’s single-coverage en route to a Super Gronk Spike.

6. “Yo soy fiesta” (January 2012)

Nothing summed up Gronk’s pure goofiness more than this clip from an ESPN Deportes interview, where he humorously said, “Yo soy fiesta”, in reference to his love for partying.

7. Stealing Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey at Fenway Park (April 2017)

One of the major postgame stories from the Pats’ dramatic win in Super Bowl LI was the mystery surrounding Tom Brady’s missing jersey. The jersey was ultimately recovered in Mexico, and Brady brought it to Fenway Park in April 2017 when the Red Sox were honoring the Super Bowl champs. Gronk snatched the jersey from Brady, which caused TB12 to chase him down and playfully tackle him on the diamond.

8. His last catch (Super Bowl LIII)

For most of the 2018 season, Gronk was not at his best, due to the lingering effects of multiple injuries. However, he was clutch when the team needed him in the playoffs, as evidenced by the last catch of his career, which was a 29-yard seam route in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII that put the Patriots in position to take the lead, and finish off the Rams.

9. Awe-inspiring touchdown against the Chiefs (Week 11, 2011)

During the 2011 season, Gronk continued to show the rest of the NFL that he was one of the league’s premier tight ends. In Week 11 against the Chiefs, Gronk recorded his 20th career touchdown on a play that saw him land awkwardly on his neck as he plunged towards the end zone. Plays like this showcase the determination he brought week after week whenever the Patriots needed him.

10. British-inspired Gronk Spike (Week 8, 2012)

During a lopsided Patriots victory against the Rams at London’s Wembley Stadium, Gronk took inspiration from Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard in order to craft a unique touchdown celebration.

Goodbye Gronk!

After weeks of speculation, Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from football via an Instagram post.

It’s hard to deny the impact Gronk had on the Patriots’ offense ever since he entered the league in 2010, as the 6-foot-6 tight end was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, requiring double-teams that provided opportunities for other New England playmakers to get open. Most importantly, Gronk was a hybrid of the traditional run-blocking tight end and a large receiver, which made him an even bigger headache for defenses, as his presence on the field produced ample running room for the Patriots’ running backs. Unlike contemporaries such as Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham, Gronk was never afraid of being physical as both a blocker and a receiver, which truly separated him from other modern tight ends. 

Off the field, Gronk earned himself a reputation of a fun-loving frat boy, due to his frequent partying and his boisterous demeanor, but as members of the Patriots organization will tell you, he was always laser focused when it came to football, with a stringent emphasis on maintaining a proper diet and fitness regimen. At the same time, he never took football too seriously, as evidenced by his touchdown celebrations, which were always finished off with a thunderous Gronk Spike.

Gronk’s career was limited by a number of injuries, such as a broken forearm (which made him start to wear the brace on his arm), torn ACL, and a herniated disk in his back. Gronk missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injuries, but returned with a bang in 2014, as he helped the Pats win Super Bowl XLIX. Gronk missed the latter half of the 2016 season due to a back injury, and was forced to sit out during the Pats’ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI. Gronk came back in 2017, and was his normal self during a season that featured an appearance in Super Bowl LII. Following the loss to the Eagles, Gronk contemplated retirement, but ultimately returned to the team. However, he was never the same during the 2018 season, and missed a number of games due to ankle and back injuries. Although he faltered as a playmaker, Gronk’s skills as a blocker never diminished, as he helped the Pats transition into a dominant rushing offense. He was at his best during the playoffs, as he began to show flashes of his old self during the AFC Championship Game, with a number of clutch catches that helped the Pats put away the Chiefs. In Super Bowl LIII, Gronk suffered a quad injury, but came through when the team needed him. He had two catches for 47 yards on the Pats’ lone touchdown drive, including an incredible seam route that put the Pats in position to break through and ultimately win the game.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

The future Hall of Famer finishes his 9-year career with these incredible statistics and accomplishments:

  • 521 receptions for 7,860 yards and 79 touchdowns
  • 3-time Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII)
  • 5-time Pro Bowler
  • 4-time First-team All-Pro (2011, 2014, 2015, 2017)
  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2014)

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots move forward, as replacing Rob Gronkowski will not be easy. I believe that the Pats will take a few tight ends during April’s draft, whether it be in the first round, or later on in the draft. Draft analysts have linked the Pats to Iowa’s dominant duo of T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, and Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr., with all three players being dynamic playmakers. However, Hockenson stands out due to his ability to run-block efficiently. If the Patriots are interested in drafting Hockenson, they will likely need to move up in the first round, as he probably won’t make it past the first 15 picks.

Rob Gronkowski may be retiring, but we will likely still see a lot of him in the coming years, as there have been numerous reports of him transitioning into a television or movie career.

Patriots Nation will miss you Gronk!

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(GIF via GIPHY)

Balanced Pats bolt past the Chargers!

TEAM

1

2

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LAC 7 0 7 14 28

NE

14 21 3 3 41

Contrary to popular belief, the New England Patriots are not dead, as they decisively routed the Los Angeles Chargers (13-5) 41-28 in a Divisional Round game that was not as close as the final score indicates. The Pats took control early by scoring on their first 4 drives and never gave the Chargers a chance of coming back in the second half. This victory improved the Pats to 12-5 on the season and set up a date with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Here are some takeaways from today’s victory.

1. Michel leads the way!

Sony Michel ended his collegiate career with the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoffs, where he dominated Oklahoma to set up an appearance in the National Championship Game. Michel didn’t disappoint in his playoff debut with the Pats as he shredded the Chargers for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns off of 24 carries. A week after shutting down Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack, the Chargers had no answer for the dominant Pats’ offensive line, who were able to consistently open holes for Michel to run through. Rob Gronkowski and James Develin were also essential parts of the rushing attack, as they assisted in pushing back the Chargers.

If the Patriots want to advance further, they’ll need Michel to continue playing like this.

Sony Michel, Kyle Emanuel
(Elise Amendola/AP)

2. Don’t doubt the GOAT and his weapons!

Most pundits entered this game wondering if Tom Brady and his receivers stood much of a chance against the Chargers who featured elite defenders in their defensive line and their secondary. Let’s just say that they were wrong, because the Brady Bunch dissected the Chargers defense early and often. The lethal duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were neutralized, as they combined for 1 hit on TB12. All in all, the Chargers never sacked Brady and only hit him once, due to the remarkable job done by the offensive line. Julian Edelman had one of his best performances in recent memory, as he corralled 9 receptions for 151 yards. Edelman was consistently a mismatch for the Chargers’ secondary, and was even harder to bring down as demonstrated by an epic conversion on 2nd & 13 when he broke free of a sure tackle to dive for a first down. Edelman’s 9 receptions helped him pass Reggie Wayne for second place in career postseason receptions. James White (15 catches for 97 yards) was a constant problem for the Chargers as he used his speed and agility to get past defenders. White’s 15 catches helped tie a record for receptions in a postseason game, and exceeded the 14 catches he had during Super Bowl LI. Phillip Dorsett (4 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown) and Chris Hogan (3 catches for 13 yards) also pitched in for the passing game. Gronk had 1 catch for 25 yards, but his impact was felt due to his effective blocking and the penalty he drew on the opening drive.

There was no denying that Tom Brady was surgical today, and he will need to be at his absolute best for the Patriots to be successful next week.

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(Charles Krupa/AP)

3. The defense stifled Rivers & company!

The Pats defense was otherworldly today as they consistently stopped the Chargers and enabled the offense to lengthen their lead. The Chargers had one of the NFL’s best running backs in Melvin Gordon, but the Pats never let him get him settled as they limited him to 15 yards and a touchdown off of 9 carries. Trey Flowers, Dont’a Hightower and the rest of the pass rushers made life miserable for Philip Rivers, as they hit him 7 times and sacked him 2 times. Rivers became increasingly frustrated and emotional throughout the game due to the constant hits he endured. He finished with 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception, with most of his production coming in garbage time.

Stephon Gilmore continued his impressive season, as he rebounded from an early error (which resulted in a 43-yard touchdown by Keenan Allen) by not allowing another completion and also picking off Rivers in the fourth quarter.

The Pats were exceptional in shutting down one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses, and they’ll need to be even better to stand a chance next week.

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(Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 34/44 for 341 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 9 catches for 151 yards
  • Defensive: Devin McCourty – 7 tackles

Chargers

  • Passing: Philip Rivers – 25/51 for 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Melvin Gordon – 9 carries for 15 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Tyrell Williams – 5 catches for 94 yards
  • Defensive: Jahleel Addae – 12 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Kansas City to take on the red hot Chiefs (13-4) for the AFC Championship Game. This is a rematch of the wild Week 6 contest that ended with a 43-40 victory for that Pats at Gillette Stadium. It will be interesting to see how the game differs during a cold night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Stunner in Pittsburgh!: Brady and the Pats capture Round 1 against Big Ben and the Steelers

What a game!

The Patriots absolutely shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, coming back from an 8 point deficit in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, winning the game 27-24. The final minutes of the Week 15 contest featured several jaw-dropping plays, such as Rob Gronkowski’s remarkable catch in the red zone, or JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 69-yard catch and run. However, the most controversial play of the game came with 28 seconds left, when Ben Roethlisberger appeared to have thrown the game winning touchdown to his tight end, Jesse James. The play was overturned when the referees determined that James lost control of the ball while reaching across to the end zone. The referee’s interpretation of the NFL’s puzzling catch rule was deemed to be correct by CBS’ Tony Romo, and even ESPN, but still wasn’t enough to dispel the beliefs of fans who feel that the NFL is rigged in favor of the Patriots.

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(Photo by Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s wild game.

1. Never count out Tom Brady!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before… Tom Brady and his Patriot offense had no business winning this game, but still found a way to get it done when it truly mattered. This sounds familiar right? TB12 was not very good in the first 3 quarters of the game, resembling his uneven performances from the last 2 weeks. For a change, it appeared as if Pittsburgh’s defense had his number, as they constantly got after him, and made him very uncomfortable in the pocket. Brady even threw an interception in the third quarter, when he forced an ugly throw into coverage, which resulted in a defensive lineman picking him off. As NFL teams have learnt over the last 16 years, nothing is impossible for the Patriots when Tom Brady is under center. They may be down 25 in the second half, or be outplayed for the first 55 minutes of the game, but to beat the Patriots you have to play for 60 minutes, and keep #12 off the field. For over three and a half quarters it appeared as if Pittsburgh was going to succeed in doing those two things, but they unfortunately gave Brady enough time to take the lead in the waning moments of the game. Brady was surgical on New England’s final drive, connecting with Gronk on several key plays, which allowed the Patriots to drive 77 yards in just over 70 seconds. Brady’s clutch performance helped move the Patriots to the #1 seed in the AFC, and he will need to continue to play at this level for the Patriots to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs.

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(Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

2. You just got Gronked!

Rob Gronkowski returned from his one-game suspension and continued his dominance over Pittsburgh’s secondary. Gronk recorded 9 catches for 168 yards (a new career high), and his impact was felt throughout the second half, with 135 yards in the last 30 minutes of the game. Gronk’s main contribution to the game came during the last drive, where he corralled 3 catches for 69 yards, including a breathtaking catch in the red zone. Gronk constantly beat Sean Davis on the drive, and helped extend the Pats’ lead to 3 with a clutch catch on a fade route for a two-point conversion. With #87 in the lineup, the Patriots can flip the switch at any given moment.

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(Photo from USA TODAY SPORTS)

3. The Patriots’ defense struggled, but managed to seal the game

If you tuned into the early stages of this game, you never would have thought that the Patriots’ defense would be able to stop Pittsburgh’s high-flying offense, as the Pats could not stop the Steelers on third down. Pittsburgh went 10-for-16 on third down in the game, allowing them to extend drives and tire out the Patriots. Le’veon Bell also had his way with the Patriots, as his patient running style got him 117 yards off 24 carries. New England was clearly on the ropes, but Pittsburgh simply could not knock them out. The Patriots were able to get two stops in the fourth quarter, enabling TB12 & Co. to score twice and take a 3 point lead. When JuJu Smith-Schuster was able to take a simple crossing route 69 yards to the 10 yard line, it seemed as if the Patriots’ luck had simply run out. This belief was exemplified when Jesse James appeared to score the game-winning touchdown. Even though the Patriots were aided by the reversed call, they did not become complacent, as they had key stops on both second and third down. On second down, they were able to tackle Darrius Heyward-Bey inbounds, and their stop on third down was even more remarkable. After the Heyward-Bey catch, it appeared as if Big Ben would simply spike the ball to allow for either a last ditch effort at the end zone, or a field goal to tie the game. Instead, he did a fake spike, and tried to force a ball to Eli Rogers in the end zone, which was deflected by Eric Rowe, and intercepted by the Patriots’ closer, Duron Harmon. The Patriots were able to win yesterday, but need to work on stopping the run, and getting off the field on third down, as it will make it much easier for them to win games in the future.

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(Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SPORTS)

The Patriots tame the Bills!

The Patriots ran over the Bills on Sunday, leaving Orchard Park with a 23-3 win. This victory was the eight straight win for New England, and moves them up to first place in the AFC (for now), with an 10-2 record.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Rex and D-Lew lead the way!

The Patriots won in an unexpected fashion yesterday, with Tom Brady and his receivers not being the main factor in the offense. Rather, it was the Pats’ rushing attack, spearheaded by Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, who revitalized the anemic offense, and also helped to put away Buffalo. Lewis totaled 92 yards off 15 carries, while Burkhead had 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis and Burkhead continue to improve week by week, ensuring that the two dynamos will be the featured rushers for the rest of the season. 

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(Photo by Adrian Kraus/AP)

2. Have yourself a game, Gronk!

Rob Gronkowski was the standout pass-catcher for the Patriots, as he corralled 9 catches for 147 yards in yet another domination of his hometown Buffalo Bills. On a day when the Patriots’ dynamic offense appeared to be stifled by the stingy Bills, Gronk and TB12 took over in the second half, connecting on several throws that extended long drives.

Unfortunately, Gronk’s monster game has been overshadowed by a reckless decision he made in the waning moments of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady dropped back to loft a ball to #87, but it was intercepted by Tre’Davious White, who appeared to have interfered with Gronk on the play. While White laid motionless on the field, Gronk lunged at him, with his elbow connecting with the back of White’s head. This is definitely out of character for the big tight end, and it is quite disappointing to see, as he let his team down, and also threatened the livelihood of a fellow player. Gronk did apologize to White, and attributed his actions to frustration, but will likely receive a hefty fine from the NFL, along with a possible suspension. 

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(Photo by  Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

3. Who’s that Eric Lee guy?

The Patriots’ defense was aided by a dominant linebacker who was involved in several key plays. No, I’m not talking about Kyle Van Noy, or Elandon Roberts, I’m talking about Eric Lee. Sunday’s hero was signed off the Bills’ practice squad 10 days ago, and singlehandedly impacted many of Buffalo’s drives. For instance, on the first drive, Buffalo easily drove down the field, and found themselves in the red zone. Lee ended their drive when he picked off an errant pass by Tyrod Taylor. Lee finished the game with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, three quarterback hits and an interception. As Tony Romo hilariously stated during the CBS broadcast, Lee has to be the most efficient player in the NFL so far this year.

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(Photo by Christopher Evans/Boston Herald)

4. The Pats’ defense continues to thrive

The Patriots continued their defensive dominance yesterday, as they limited Buffalo to 3 points, and 85 passing yards (for two quarterbacks). They also had four sacks, nine quarterback hits and eight pass deflections. Similarly to the last few weeks, the Patriots played a bend-but-don’t-break form of defense, as they allowed Buffalo to drive at times, but were able to stop them when necessary. As mentioned earlier, Eric Lee was one of the most dominant Patriot defenders, but another key contributor was Stephon Gilmore, who had a great performance against his former team. Gilmore was mostly able to shut down the receivers he covered in the beginning of the game, and had several key plays late in the fourth quarter. He had 3 pass deflections during one of Buffalo’s last drives, preventing the Bills from putting any points on the board.

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(Photo by Adrian Kraus/AP)

 

Heading up North!

The Patriots start off their critical 3-week road stretch on Sunday, when they’ll take on their division rival, the Buffalo Bills. The Pats enter this game as 9-point favorites, and they hope to leave New Era Field with their 8th straight victory.

Here are a few storylines to think about entering tomorrow’s game…

1. Tom Brady’s dominance against the Bills

TB12 is the GOAT. If you want any clarification on that statement, just ask Bills’ fans. Brady is an astounding 26-3 against the Bills, and has 68 touchdowns against them (including 2 rushing touchdowns). An interesting stat to consider is that TB12 has more touchdowns against the Bills than Tyrod Taylor has scored in his career (63). #12 has been remarkable in his last 3 games at Buffalo, throwing for 11 touchdowns, with no interceptions. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that Brady’s otherworldly production in Upstate New York will continue.

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(Photo by Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports)

2. Gronk’s homecoming

Rob Gronkowski is a Buffalo native, which means that his annual game back home is probably very special to the game-changing tight end. Just like his quarterback, Gronk has also dominated the hapless Bills at New Era Field, recording 35 catches for 583 yards and 7 touchdowns in 6 career games up north. Last year, Gronk’s main highlight of the season occured in Buffalo, where he caught his 69th career touchdown, breaking the franchise record. 

Bonus: If you’re in the market for wings in Buffalo, Gronk recommends Amherst Ale House. What’s an article about the Patriots without a mention of Gronk and his food?

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(Photo by Matt West/Boston Herald)

3. Containing the run game

The Patriots have continued to make improvements on defense, with a particular emphasis being placed on their secondary. The Patriots have managed to stifle opposing quarterbacks, but there is still some need to be concerned with their ability to stop opposing running backs. The Patriots’ run defense did have a good game against the Dolphins, holding all of Miami’s rushers to 19 carries for 67 yards, but they face a tall task against ‘Shady’ McCoy. McCoy’s elusiveness and brute force makes it very hard for opposing defenses to bring him down. McCoy is the heart and central focus of the Bills’ offense, so the Patriots will have a great chance of winning if they can stifle #25. 

The Patriots have also had a bad history against running quarterbacks. Tyrod Taylor is very athletic, and good at extending plays with his feet, which means that the Patriots’ defense will need to be alert in order to wrap him up.

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(Photo from USA TODAY SPORTS)

PredictionPatriots 31, Bills 17

Although the Bills are a desperate team fighting to make the playoffs, I still expect the Patriots to pull out a win in Buffalo. TB12, Gronk, and Brandin Cooks should make life difficult for the Bills defense, and force Tyrod Taylor & Co. to play from behind. Look for Stephon Gilmore to make some big plays against his former team.