Some guys just bring out the best in each other, and it’s obvious that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are already in sync after an electrifying two weeks where the two have had big performances.
Since Brady’s return, Gronkowski looks like a completely different player and Sunday was another strong reminder of how dangerous he can be. Despite battling the flu, the veteran caught 7-passes on 9 targets, good for a career-best 162-yards while also catching his first touchdown pass of the season.
That marks two straight weeks where Gronkowski has gone for over 100-yards and Brady threw for over 300 himself, with the two looking like they haven’t skipped a beat. The chemistry these two have is just ridiculous and despite the fact he’s been sick, Gronkowski looked better than ever after the best day he’s had so far as an NFL tight end.
Despite a productive day, Gronkowski said after the game he was just happy they got the win.
“It feels good to go out there and just be with the team,” said Gronkowski. “What’s special about that is that we got the win, and that’s more important for sure. It’s cool that I got the career-high and everything, but most important to me is getting that win, and that was a great team win overall.”
Sunday’s outing brings his totals over the last two games to 12 receptions on 16 targets for 271 yards and a touchdown, which leads all Patriots receivers over that same span. Prior to that, he had just one reception for 11-yards in his previous two games, which came during their Week 4 loss to the Bills. Since then it’s been a different story, with Gronkowski having been on fire the last two weeks and he’s made some big plays. Nine of Gronkowski’s last twelve catches have gone for first downs, including a team-best five plays of over 30 yards, three of which came Sunday against the Bengals.
Gronkowski let himself get baited by the Bengals on Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)
Gronk’s lone mistake on Sunday was letting the Cincinnati bait him into getting called for a taunting penalty, which was the beginning of where things began to boil over for what was clearly a frustrated Bengals’ team who could feel the game starting to slip away.
Facing a 2nd-and-12 from the Bengals’ 49-yard line, Tom Brady hit Gronkowski on a pass up the seam between the safeties, which lead to safety Adam Jones taking a shot at Gronkowski’s knee, with his helmet striking it as Gronkowski was brought down. After the play, it appeared Jones was the one who was worse for wear, as he got up slowly following the collision.
However, Gronkowski wasn’t happy, waving his arms and walking toward Jones, which lead to Vontaze Burfict stepping between the two while getting into it with Gronkowski. Having watched Burfict dive at Martellus Bennett’s knee on an earlier play, it seemed like he wasn’t impressed with Burfict’s tactics and apparently let him know it as things began getting heated. He eventually walked away from the scuffle after center David Andrews and rookie guard, Joe Thuney, each went over and pulled him away. Brady then attempted to end it when he walked over to the fray and was seen yelling over to the offensive guys, with the group then heading back to get ready for the next play.
But on the next snap, Brady hit Gronkowski on a 12-yard play and Gronkowski was brought down by Josh Shaw, who twisted Gronk’s legs as he tackled him and Dre Kirkpatrick also dove at him while he was down. The veteran tight end stood up and was fuming, getting into it with Kirkpatrick before Burfict again came over and pointed in Gronkowski’s face, but the official was nearby and escorted Gronkowski away past Burfict and then past Jones, who again walked over and issued his own choice words.
Unfortunately, it got Gronkowski riled up enough where he jawed with the Bengals’ sideline and spun the football in front of them as he said something and walked away, leading the officials to call him for taunting while hitting New England with a 15-yard penalty.
From there, Bill Belichick brought Gronkowski over to the sideline and talked to him and was obviously upset as the veteran tried to plead his case, but it was clear Belichick reminded him it was more important to maintain his composure.
That play killed their momentum because it turned them from having what would have been 1st-and-10 at the Bengals’ 8-yard line, to instead having a 1st-and-23. That put them in tough shape and ultimately they weren’t able to convert and keep it going, and were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal.
After the game, Gronkowski admitted he made a mistake.
“First off, I’ve got to take full responsibility on that personal foul on me,” said Gronkowski. “I can’t be letting that happen. It’s a good thing that it didn’t hurt the team in this situation.”
“I mean, we got the win, but down the road, it can always hurt the team getting a personal foul. I’ve definitely got to be more aware of that and take responsibility on [my] behalf for that penalty.”
Fortunately, the Patriots walked away with the win and it’s simply a learning experience for Gronkowski, who with Brady back under center is hitting his stride at the right time. They’ll now face a tough Steelers team on the road next week and it will take another big effort in order to keep up their winning ways, and hopefully Gronkowski will continue to build on what has definitely been a terrific two weeks.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary