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.

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.

*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.

*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.

*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.

*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.

*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.