By: Ian Logue
A few weeks ago against Indianapolis, tight end Rob Gronkowski was close to setting a record.
That day he was one touchdown away from setting the NFL’s single season touchdown record by a tight end, and unfortunately it was a call by the officials that changed what would have been a touchdown reception to a lateral, which negated a record being set in front of the fans at Gillette Stadium.
Gronkowski set the single season record for receiving yards by a tight end on Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
After the game, a very terse Bill Belichick told the media when asked if he knew how close Gronkowski was to the record, “I was really trying to be concerned with beating the Colts. Was not really concerned about individual stats.”
He later added, “I think I’ve said that many, many times. This game’s not about individual stats, it’s about team wins.”
Obviously Gronk would later go on to set that record, and after an incredbile season he was, once again, in position for another one heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
Coming into the game the second year tight end had 1219 yards, and was just 71 away from the NFL single season record for a tight end, which was 1290, set by Kellen Winslow.
Oddly enough Gronkowski was also up against Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who came into today with 1213, leaving what was potentially an interesting battle between the two players.
Gronkowski ended up with 108 yards receiving, while Graham had 97 and that gave Gronkowski the record.
However, he had a little help. Up 49-21 with 1:30 to go, Brian Hoyer relieved Brady and came in with a chance to run out the clock. However, there was one final play called on what would be a 22-yard completion from Hoyer to Gronkowski, ensuring that the record would be his.
Think it was offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien who called that play?
“Yeah, that last play, I had Billy [O’Brien] call that because I wasn’t sure exactly where he was [in relation to Graham], and I thought that he deserved a chance to go up and try to make another play,” Belichick told reporters after the game. “He’s had a great year, and he’s worked hard. I thought he deserved that. I’m not really sure where it stands or doesn’t stand, but we threw it up there one more time to him. He made a nice play on it.”
That final play gave him 1327 on the year, well ahead of the 1310 by Graham.
After the game Gronkowski told ESPN that it meant a lot that Belichick called the play and that he’s now earned a place in the record books.
“It means a lot,” said Gronkowski. “It’s unbelievable. It’s surreal they even let me go out there. It’s cool they let me do that. We could have kneeled there. Hoyer just came in the game. He made a great pass. That’s why I love it here. It’s such a great organization with great coaches and players. This would never have happened without (fellow tight end)Aaron (Hernandez), my coaches and the players.”
And it never would have happened if Belichick really didn’t care about helping his Pro Bowl tight end make sure he found a place for himself in the record books.