FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In the middle of the Patriots’ win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Rob Gronkowski’s struggles were evident.

The All-Pro tight end failed to break a tackle on a Tom Brady third-down throw in the second quarter. It was the type of play that Gronk usually makes, but in this instance, safety Anthony Harris corralled the big tight end and brought him to the ground a yard shy of the first down. On the next play, a direct snap to James White on third-and-1, Gronkowski missed a block as the Patriots running back was stopped for no gain.

Gronkowski played 73 of 74 offensive snaps against the Vikings and finished with three catches for 26 yards. He was also flagged for two penalties — false start and offensive holding. The performance had many wondering how the big tight end was holding up physically and how much the Patriots could count on him.

The worry in New England doesn’t appear to be carrying over to the Patriots’ opponents. For Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase, Gronkowski still represents a threat.

“He’s got to fight a lot of factors,” Gase said. “He’s getting double teamed all the time. I’m sure that takes a toll on his body, but he shows up every Sunday, he competes extremely hard. He’s a good run block. He’s a good pass protector. He does a great job anytime the ball is thrown to him. He’s just a hard guy for any defense to defend because it’s like a grown man playing with a bunch of kids. He’s such a big target.

“He’s one of those guys, when you go to face him, you just try to do everything you can to contain him. You know he’s going to get his catches. When he gets in the red zone, you’ve just got to try to keep him out of there.”

Gronk hasn’t had his typical season. The tight end missed three of four games between Week 7 and Week 10 with a back injury. This season, he has one 100-yard game and just two touchdowns. Gase, however, says the Dolphins will need to game plan for the 6-foot-6 tight end.

“Oh yeah,” Gase said. “If you want to look strictly at numbers, you can get caught up in something else, but you watch the tape, you see there might be times he’s open and for whatever reason the ball goes somewhere else. Or there’s some kind of pressure and something didn’t work out the right way... He’s still a major force in their offense. We have to make sure we do a good job with him however we do it because he’s one of those guys when all of a sudden, you think he’s being quiet and the next thing you know, he has two or three touchdowns and 100-plus yards and absolutely cuts your heart out on the defensive side.”