FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski didn’t catch a pass until the third quarter of Sunday’s blowout of the Chargers — his only official catch and target in the 41-28 win.
But the big tight end, again used mostly as a blocker, had already made news hours before the game.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network became the latest to speculate this might be it for Gronk, meaning Sunday marked the big fella’s final game at Gillette Stadium.
If you have forgotten, Gronkowski toyed with the idea of retiring after last season and also reportedly killed a potential trade to Detroit, saying he wanted to play with Tom Brady only.
We know Brady will be back. Gronk?
“I’m all in right now,” Gronk said after the game, again deflecting any talk of his future.
He was actually targeted twice, a completion and Gronk-type run and an interference call in the end zone. But he was fine with that, saying he loves to block. “That was a real fun game out there,” he said.
“He’s a great blocker,” said Brady. “I think that’s something that goes maybe a little under the radar with his skill set, but he’s one of the most dominant blocking tight ends in the league. Again, he’s a threat when he catches it. Just did such a great job there to start the third quarter. He’s a threat any time he’s out there.”
The 25-yard catch gave Gronkowski 997 career postseason receiving yards, 15th all-time in the NFL.
Jules is golden
Julian Edelman came charging out of the tunnel pre-game, flew all the way to the other end of the field and started pumping his fist to get the fans riled up. He then played one great playoff game as his team advanced.
He caught nine passes for 151 yards, had 37 yards worth of punt returns and ran for seven yards on one carry. He’s such a great player. Such a great teammate,” said Brady. “He had a great game today. He came up big. We needed it and we’ll need it next week (at K.C.) too.”
Edelman jumped from 11th to eighth on the NFL’s all-time postseason yardage list and past Reggie Wayne for second place with a 28-yarder for his 92nd catch. He won’t catch Jerry Rice, who finished with 151.
After the game, Edelman, whose fifth 100-yard postseason game moved him into ninth place on that list, called Sony Michel, “The Blazin’ Haitian. He’s a beast.”
The 35-point first half, which included four rushing touchdowns, was historical for the Pats.
From Stats By Stats: “The Patriots are the first team in NFL history to have 4 rushing TD in the first half of a playoff game. Sony Michel is the fifth player with 3 rushing TD in the first half of a playoff game, joining Franco Harris, John Riggins, Ricky Watters and LeGarrette Blount.”
Philip Dorsett’s touchdown catch marked the 18th straight target to the wide receiver without a miss dating back to Week 5. Then there was a miss but he finished with four catches on five targets, making it 21 of the last 22.
Michel registered the fourth three-touchdown game by a Patriot in the postseason — Blount had two and Curtis Martin one.
The Dolphins, expected to hire Patriots’ de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores, are reportedly holding off on their announcement as the Pats keep playing. Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, an old friend of Bill Belichick, is said to be in line to re-join some of his Rutgers players.
The Patriots improved to 10-0 all-time when having a 100-yard rusher in a playoff game. … Brady threw a touchdown pass for his 13th straight postseason game, tying him with Dan Marino and Peyton Manning for third place on that all-time list.
Side judge Sarah Thomas became the first female official to work an NFL playoff game. … Jon Bon Jovi himself led the fans in their fourth-quarter Livin’ On A Prayer, with Pats owner Robert Kraft seated next to the singer and singing along.
Chargers all-time great tight end Antonio Gates caught a late touchdown pass and said after the game he hopes to play against next season. “Gates is a monster – I’ve been watching him since high school,” said Gronkowski, who said he wished Gates well on the field after the game.