FOXBORO -- Before leaving Sunday's game last in the fourth quarter with what was later determined to be a broken forearm, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made NFL history in a 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history to have three-straight, 10-plus touchdown seasons. He finished the game with seven receptions for a game-high 137 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.
His first touchdown of the game came on New England's opening drive, which resulted in a four-yard touchdown reception by Gronkowski, which tied the game at 7-7.
But it was Gronkowski's second touchdown reception of the game -- a 24-yard catch in the third quarter -- which pushed his 2012 season totals to 10 touchdowns for the third straight season.
"Hes a tough matchup for everybody, not just us," said Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians after the game. "So, yeah, youve got your work cut out for you if it is your job covering him. And Tom Brady knows where to put the ball on him when youve got good coverage. I mean, Antoine Bethea had great coverage on him one time and it was a perfect throw and a good catch. Theres nothing else you can do. Just line up and play the next down."
"He is such a big body and fluid receiver," said Colts safety Tom Zbikowski. "It's not like he is going to burn you with his speed, but he finds a way to get open every time. And they also have a pretty good quarterback that can put it where he needs to put it."
That quarterback was asked after the game why Gronkowski doesn't get double-teamed more often on Sundays.
"Well, they try," said Tom Brady. "I think its definitely something they try. Its just hard because do you want to blitz? Do you not want to blitz? When you're a tight end, you're really in the inside part of the field and you can run basically anywhere you want. Its not like youre an outside receiver where your route has to complement other peoples routes. As a tight end, you can go to the right, left, deep, short; you can really do whatever you want. And the more guys you put on them, the less there are on Wes Welker, the less guys you have rushing, the less on Brandon Lloyd, Julian Edelman. Thats why it's team football."
Gronkowski also became the third Patriots player to record three consecutive 10-plus touchdown seasons, joining Randy Moss and Corey Dillon.
"Rob does a great job for us, blocking, receiving, third down, red area," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the game. "Hes a good player."
That's something the Patriots knew well before Sunday's win over the Colts.