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.
HERNANDEZ CONFIRMS THE TD CELEBRATION YOU THOUGHT YOU SAW: "Ummm. I made it rain a little bit."
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.
GREAT TIGHT ENDS THINK ALIKE:
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."