Gronk just can’t stay healthy.
It was the sickening thought reverberating among the Patriots faithful after word came down that Gronkowski missed Friday’s practice with an undisclosed illness. Listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, his playing status remained shrouded in mystery until shortly before kickoff Sunday. Fans breathed a cautious sigh of relief when Gronkowski’s name wasn’t listed among the inactives but his involvement in the game still remained cloudy. How many snaps would he play? How hobbled is he? Can he still be effective?
Things became clear very quickly, much to the chagrin of the Bengals defense.
Hauling in seven of nine targets for 162 yards and a touchdown, Gronkowski looked nigh unstoppable Sunday.
In stride. Behind him. At his feet. It seemingly didn’t matter where Brady put the ball, Gronk was determined to snatch it up, ripping off big chunks of yards after the catch to pour more salt in the Bengals wounds. When he’s in this form, Gronk is simply majestic to watch. He looks to be a man among children — no more so than when some poor linebacker is assigned the hopeless duty of matching up in single coverage against him.
With his third quarter touchdown grab — giving him 67 total TDs for his career — Gronkowski moved to number two all-time in franchise history behind Stanley Morgan (68) who, barring injury, he’s a virtual lock to pass this year. His 38-yard reception in the third quarter also vaulted him into fourth place past Irving Fryar on the Patriots all-time receiving yards list. He now only trails Morgan, Wes Welker and Troy Brown in New England franchise history.
Not bad for a guy who is only in his seventh year.