X’s and O’s: Gronkowski’s First Career TD vs. Bengals, Week 1, 2010


Over the next several days, I’ll be taking a look back into the 2010 regular season at the X’s and O’s of the New England Patriots’ most memorable touchdowns. The Patriots’ Official Website put together a list of 2010′s most memorable touchdowns, and these will be the basis for the plays that will be analyzed. These X’s and O’s pieces, like the ones I did during the season, diagram the play and explain how it worked.

Today, we’ll take a look at TE Rob Gronkowski’s first career catch and first career touchdown, which came against the Cincinnati Bengals during Week One. Gronk was fortunate to have his first NFL catch and touchdown come on the same play.

The image above is what Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown play looks like before the snap. The Patriots are in their power goal line formation, with three tight ends, OG Dan Connolly lined up as a fullback, and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield. The Bengals are in a goal line defense with extra defensive linemen to try and stop a power run. Everything about the Patriots’ formation gives a run look, but you can never rely on that to be the case 100% of the time, and that was certainly what happened here.

Before the snap, TE Aaron Hernandez, lined up in the backfield to Brady’s left, goes in motion to the left and stays in to block after the snap. At the snap, Brady runs play-action to the right side of the formation. Dan Connolly, lined up as a fullback, heads to the right as if to block, but then runs an out route. BenJarvus Green-Ellis stays in the backfield to block. TE Alge Crumpler, lined up to Brady’s left on the line of scrimmage, sells the run at the snap before running a short drag route just inside the end zone. TE Rob Gronkowski, lined up to Brady’s right on the line of scrimmage, runs a

deeper out

corner route. He has one man on him (lined up directly in front of him before the snap) to beat.

Gronkowski manages to get slightly open, but Dhani Jones (#57) has good coverage. Brady floats the pass high, and Gronk simply uses his tremendous athletic ability to out-leap Jones and make the catch, as you can see in the image above.

To view footage of this play as well as other highlights from this game, click HERE.

Previous X’s and O’s of the Patriots’ Most Memorable Touchdowns of 2010: