Hernandez, Gronkowski come up big for Brady


Hernandez, Gronkowski come up big for Brady

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

MIAMI -- Which tight end did you pick for a sophomore slump: Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski?

Either way, you got it wrong.

Or so it seems after New England's Monday night fight with AFC East foe Miami. The Patriots walloped the 'Fins, 38-24, and Miami's inability to contain the two tight ends was a deciding factor. Hernandez had 7 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown; Gronkowski, 6 for 86 and a touchdown.

The match-up mess got especially frustrating in the fourth quarter for veteran Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell. Brady opened his first drive with a 15-yard pass to Gronkowski, who Bell brought down with help from Reshad Jones. Bell, infuriated by yet another first down by yet another Brady-to-tight end connection, punched a balled-up fist into the field and let out a roar.

Hernandez ended up with 42 receiving yards on that drive and New England got three more points. More impressively, the efficiency helped Brady to a record-setting 517 passing yards -- the first of his career and 11th in NFL history.

Housed (and probably lost) inside that tremendous benchmark is another first: The first game both Hernandez and Gronkowski recorded a touchdown catch. Hard to believe, right? One of the two tight ends caught a six-point ball in every regular-season game last year (Gronkowski had 10, Hernandez 6), but they never did it on the same night.

Until now.


ON GETTING BETTER WITH TIME: "I'm a lot more comfortable because now I'm learning a little bit more about defenses and more plays. But I've still got a long ways to go and I just take it day by day."

WHY THE TWO TIGHT END SET WORKS: "Sometimes they worry about Gronkowski and they forget about me. And sometimes they worry about me and forget about him. That's why it's a great combination.

After the game, Hernandez was asked to describe Gronkowski.

"He's a beast," he yelled, nodding over to his teammates stall. "Everybody knows that he's a playmaker. He's a great tight end."

When the media hoard shuffled down to Gronkowski's locker to ask the same question, he returned the compliment. "Hernandez? He's a beast," Gronkowski laughed. The reporters yukked it up in kind. "Great teammate to have. Great tight end, goes out there, gets open. He helps in the running game and everything. It's great to have each other and push each other. It's awesome."

GRONKOWSKI ON GRONKOWSKI (brother Dan, tight end): "That's cool that he's on the team and everything and he had a great game, too. He had a great blocking game overall and he played a lot. It was awesome to be out there with him."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti.

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

FOXBORO - The Patriots got a desired outcome Thursday night when the Chiefs handed the Raiders their third loss of the season. 

The 21-13 loss dropped Oakland and KC into a tie atop the AFC West at 10-3 but the Chiefs, by virtue of beating Oakland twice this season, have the divisional tiebreaker. Oakland went from the top seed in the AFC to the fifth spot.

More importantly around here, the Patriots now are in position to win out and claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed. 

Prior to the Raiders loss, Oakland would have been the top seed if both they and the Patriots won out.  Now, the 10-2 Patriots have a leg up on the rest of the conference. The Raiders’ road stays tough. They are at San Diego and Denver and host the Colts. 

The Chiefs have a more favorable close to the season with home games against Tennessee and Denver before their season finale at San Diego. 

The Patriots’ road over the final four is no picnic though, beginning with the Ravens and at Denver before the last two hosting the Jets and traveling to Miami.