Rob Gronkowski’s greatest hits, catches, and plays
Gronk won’t go down against the ‘Skins in 2011
The best year of Gronkowski’s nine-season NFL career was undoubtedly his sophomore effort in 2011. It would go down as only the second time he’d make it through a full 16-game season without missing any time to injury (the first time being his rookie year); more importantly though, it remains the only season Gronk both played in and started all 16 games of the regular season.
Why is that so important? Because it serves as a helpful benchmark of just what Gronkowski was capable of doing without the impediment of injury. Essentially, the 2011 season was one long look at Gronk’s ceiling as a player – and boy, what a high ceiling it was!
Gronkowski had 90 catches for 1,327 yards (both career highs, of course). More impressively, he finished with a whopping 17 touchdowns on the year, a record for tight end touchdown receptions in a season that still stands today and could conceivably stand forever.
There were many eye-popping highlights in Gronk’s 2011 season, but for our money, the most memorable came in Week 14 on the road against the Washington Redskins. Gronkowski caught six passes for a then career-high 160 receiving yards, while also setting the single-season mark for touchdown receptions by a TE at the same time.
His standout day was capped by a remarkable play in the first quarter in which he made a diving catch on a low-thrown Tom Brady missile right around midfield. Gronkowski wisely recognized he hadn’t been touched by Washington defensive back DeJon Gomes, so he got up and started trucking forward with the ball. Gomes jumped on his back to try and bring him down, and even got significant help from fellow DB Reed Doughty, who also jumped on Gronk and tried to wrestle him down to the ground by his legs.
But Gronkowski simply would not go down. He dragged two grown men a few yards before shaking them both off and then breaking a third tackle en route to an additional 30 yards down the sideline, half-running, half-falling the whole way through.
This play is probably the single best representation of how hard it was to get Gronkowski tackled, especially when he had a head full of steam.