Gronkowski sets tight end TD record

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Gronkowski sets tight end TD record

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.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?