Gronk Life: Tight end lights it up again


Gronk Life: Tight end lights it up again

FOXBORO - He is Spicoli in shoulder pads. Minus, presumably, the weed and the surfing. The best pure tight end in football, Rob Gronkowski, added to his burgeoning legend Monday night with four catches for 96 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of earth-denting "Gronk Smash!" spikes. He's got 56 catches for 805 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's second in the NFL in catches, third in yards and first in touchdowns. He will be an All-Pro. He will be in the Pro Bowl. He will also give himself away in a raffle to spend Christmas Eve in the company of Gronk. He will no longer be photographed willingly with porn stars. He will live the Gronk Life and everyone with even a molecule of fun in their being will smile at what appears to be the harmless, laid-back, fun-seeking idiocy of a 22-year-old blessed with a body that's perfect for his vocation. "I call it maximizing the adventure of the NFL," was the response of veteran Gerard Warren when I asked him Monday night about the odd soul a few lockers away. By the time I talked to Warren, Gronkowski's postgame interview with ESPN had ended. With reporters surrounding his locker, he decided to get his media commitments out of the way all at once. He began to peel off his coat then decided he liked the way it looked and left it on. Thinking aloud as he made each decision, feigning seriousness as he faced the throng, this is how the interview went. Gronk was asked about his neck which he landed on when he scored a touchdown in the third quarter. "Feels great. I think it feels better (than it did)."The thunderous spike. Did he almost forget to do it after his crash landing. "I wasn't really thinking of it until I did it. It's just what it is, what it is."Gronkowski punctuated that with a strange cackle. Perhaps a realization that he'd mangled perhaps theeasiest catchphrase New England's football team has: "It is what it is."The medical staff. What did they ask you after the spike?"They were just asking me questions like they gotta. IfI was fine and everything I was just fine. I just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit. You know how that is when that happens."Ya know, among the group he was addressing, there wasn't a one of us who appeared capable of executing the move Gronkowski made without ending up eating through a straw for the rest of their life. So, actually, no. Nobody's had the wind knocked out of them like that. But the trainers, you guys were laughing?"Yeah, they're always cracking jokes. Trainers are cool."What were they asking you, math problems?"I just, yeah. They kept asking me then I started throwing out my own math problems. "They were like, 'Dude, count to 10.' I started counting to 10. It was pretty easy though. They kept letting me play."Now, as I read back what I've written it's easy to see where someone would think I'm making fun of Gronk. But there's no malice. The kid is without guile, without polish, without apology. He is simply him. And he does his best to accomodate requests and do his job with a level of enjoyment that, simply,makes you wish there were a few more Gronks around.You say, "That's how I'd be . . . " if you were good enough and lucky enough to be in the NFL at the level he's at. But almost all of us wouldn't be. You're either born like Gronk or you're not. You can't change the wiring. The best you can do is appreciate the player and appreciate that he, simply, appreciates what the hell's happening. "It's still pretty crazy," he admitted in the moment most closely resembling deep thought. "It's still a dream come true being in the NFL. Some days I wake up. I talk to Dane Fletcher, a Patriots linebacker, my roommate and we're like, 'Dude, we're in the NFL.' It's crazy like, we still can't kinda believe it. It's playing with all these great players and everything that we looked up to when we were in high school even in middle school. It's so much fun coming out, you have to try and treat every moment like your last."God willing, the last of Gronk is a long ways off.

Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants


Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.

The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference.

It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks.

Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2.

The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 1-yard run after Damon Harrison's interception. Rosas, who missed the extra point after the Darkwa TD, kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Giants a short-lived 9-6 lead with 1:38 left in regulation after Janoris Jenkins' interception.

With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal - his third short one - with :01 left in regulation. The drive was kept alive when Jenkins' interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty against him.

McAdoo pulled out every trick in his book, using a fake punt; a halfback option that was intercepted; an odd formation with his tackles lined up 5 yards wide; and then the decision to go on fourth-and-5 from the Chiefs 36 with just over two minutes to play.

The Giants took the lead early in the second quarter after defensive tackle Harrison intercepted a deflected shovel pass and returned it to the Kansas City 26-yard line. Led by DT Robert Thomas' blocking, Darkwa scored from 1 yard after Marcus Peters was called for pass interference in the end zone.

Rosas, who had missed a field goal in each of the last four games, had his extra point pushed wide right by the wind.

Kansas City cut the lead in half on the next series, driving 61 yards in more than nine minutes. Butker ended up with his first 31-yard field goal.


The Giants' unexpected performance came less than a week after co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the embattled McAdoo would remain in charge through at least the end of the season. Days later, McAdoo and his team held what he termed "a brutally honest" team meeting in which mistakes and lack of effort plays were shown for all to see after the two losses by a combined 82-38 margin.


The Giants were missing two key starters. WR Sterling Shepard was out after having a career game against San Francisco, making 11 catches for 142 yards. He was added to the injury report Saturday with an illness and could not play. CB Eli Apple was at home with his mother, who had brain surgery on Thursday. "He's My best friend, my nurse and part time ninja," Annie Apple tweeted Sunday morning. ...Thanks for being my side every step of the way."


Chiefs: Host Buffalo next Sunday.

Giants: at Washington on Thanksgiving night.

Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East


Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds remaining and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Miami Dolphins 30-20 on Sunday.

O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter.

They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day where Miami had more mistakes than points.

Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20-20 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner.

Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs' score.

Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. Moore went 17 of 28 for 282 yards and the touchdown in relief, but Miami couldn't overcome five turnovers and 17 penalties - one shy of the franchise all-time record.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards, and Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards and another touchdown for Miami, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2013.

A pair of short drives gave the Bucs control in that big second quarter. Howard's score came on a two-play, 6-yard drive after an interception, and Jackson's score capped a four-play, 37-yard drive following a Miami fumble.


The Dolphins had their three longest passing plays of the season - the 61-yard touchdown pass to Stills, a 49-yarder to Landry and another 45-yard strike to Stills. Before Sunday, Miami's longest pass play was a 36-yard throw from Cutler to Stills against the Jets on Oct. 22.


Buccaneers: RG Evan Smith left in the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Dolphins: Besides Cutler's concussion, the Dolphins lost RG Jermon Bushrod in the third quarter to a left foot injury. LB Chase Allen, who started in place of Rey Maualuga - who was arrested early Saturday in a dispute over a bar tab and quickly waived by the Dolphins - also was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. LB Stephone Anthony had a knee injury, the specifics of which were not announced.


Howard, the Bucs' rookie tight end, celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. For the Dolphins, CB Cordrea Tankersley turned 24 and DE Terrence Fede turned 26.


Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta on Nov. 26, the second game in a three-week stretch of road contests.

Dolphins: Visit New England on Nov. 26, the start of a three-week stretch where Miami will see the Patriots twice.