Gronkowski sets tight end TD record

Gronkowski sets tight end TD record
December 11, 2011, 7:51 pm
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LANDOVER, MD -- Rob Gronkowski broke the all-time record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end in a single season in New England's 34-27 win over Washington.

He tried to play coy after the game.

"What record?" Gronkowski quipped to the hoard of reporters encircling his locker. The straight face lasted, literally, half a second before his guffaws replaced it.

"Got the ball back and everything. It was cool to get a record and everything, but that really doesn't matter. We got the team victory, we got the 'W' and that's all that matters coming out."

Gronkowski caught his 14th touchdown ball in the first quarter on an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady. He paused, then launched his trademark spike, which bounced about 20 feet in the air and went over the goal post. Gronkowski immediately chased down the record-breaking ball and brought it over to the bench.

He thought he set the mark in the third quarter of last week's tilt against the Colts. After review, that catch was ruled a lateral, making it a rushing touchdown by Gronkowski. The sideline celebration was for naught -- or, rather, to be continued.

Such is the way with this tight end.

Just 22-years old, Gronkowski seems to raise the bar on a weekly basis. He leaves Washington with two scores and 160 receiving yards, the sixth time he's had multiple TDs in a game and the fourth game he's tallied over 100 yards. He also set a franchise record for scoring in six straight games; he hurdled Randy Moss among others to set that mark.

Washington rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan could only pay respect.

"He's got it all in terms of being a tight end," Kerrigan said. "He's strong, he can run after the catch, he's fast. He can do it all. He's what you want in a tight end."

His upper body betrays the breezy memories. On Sunday, Gronkowski had a green bruise running the length of his lower back. His left elbow was swollen. There was a spot of blood on one arm and various scratches on the other.

Mementos left by vanquished opponents.

They try and try to take him down. One Washington attempt in the second quarter will highlight the highlight reels. Gronkowski made a sliding catch over the middle on a Patriots second-and-nine. Then he got up. And he ran. Redskins safeties Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes threw themselves at Gronkowski near the sideline -- one at his feet, the other at his arms -- but he spun off of one and broke free of the other. And he kept running.

Gronkowski tacked 49 yards on to the catch and left jaws unhinged throughout the stadium.

"There was no whistles or nothing, so I just started running," he grinned. "When I don't hear a whistle I just keep playing."

"You've got to go full speed at all times out there. Those guys are big, those guys are all fast out there. If you're not going full speed they're going to knock you down right away."

Yeah, right. If there's someone out there who can stop Gronkowski, the Patriots have yet to meet him.