Patriots

Brady understands Gronkowski's frustration

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Brady understands Gronkowski's frustration

You're never surprised when Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski's back. The big tight end has helped make Brady's life a little easier since he arrived in New England as a second-round pick in 2010.

That's why it barely caused a ripple when Brady quietly lobbed some support Gronkowski's way as he stepped to the podium at New Era Field on Sunday.

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Devin McCourty was finishing up his press conference by making a joke that Patriots defensive backs to a lot of holding when trying to defend Gronkowski in practice. Brady replaced McCourty at the microphone with a smile and a quick quip.

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After the country had several hours to chew on what happened at the end of the Patriots' 23-3 win in Buffalo -- when Gronkowski took a shot at Tre'Davious White following White's fourth-quarter interception -- Brady spoke to WEEI's Kirk and Callahan about his tight end's actions.

"Obviously, it was unnecessary roughness. He got the penalty for it," Brady said. "It’s an emotional game. These are spur-of-the-moment things. They just happen. We deal with the penalties. They got some penalties on the play too, and you’d always love to keep your cool all the time, but when you’re in a sport when you are trying to run, block and hit, tackle, and be physical and aggressive, that is why people tune in. I think if it was a pillow fight I don’t think people would tune in to watch."

Then Brady laid out why Gronkowski sometimes feels as frustrated as he does -- something Gronkowski himself explained immediately following the game. It's an issue Gronkowski has actually been very open discussing in the past, and it's one Brady was willing to delve into on Monday morning.

Clearly, they're hoping for some kind of change in how plays involving Gronkowski are officiated. At different points in his career, he has been among the league leaders in offensive pass interference penalties, and he picked up another to start the second half on Sunday.  

"I think for him it is frustrating," Brady said. "He’s 270 pounds, so when they put a 190-pound player on him, any time there’s any contact, just by inertia the other defender is going to move. You basically limit it to a non-contact play and it’s just try to out-quick someone, which obviously those guys are a lot quicker. 

"Gronk tries to get as close as he can to use his size, but the refs, they throw a lot of flags on him. He’s tried to change his style of play a little bit, but I think he obviously gets grabbed and held all day long. I’d say it is very frustrating for him to get these pass interference calls and he’s getting held the whole game and he doesn’t get a call. I can see why he’s very frustrated. It’s frustrating for everybody.”

Gronkowski finished the game with nine catches for 147 yards, but the question is now whether or not he will be able to build on that performance next week against the Dolphins. The league will certainly kick around the possibility of further discipline for his hit on White. 

“I hope not," Brady said when asked about the possibility of a Gronkowski suspension. "I certainly hope not. Yeah, I hope not.”

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Patriots lament lack of energy after loss to Dolphins

Patriots lament lack of energy after loss to Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It was a simple question and, in the world according to Bill Belichick, deserved a simple answer. Shortly after the Patriots’ 8-game win streak came to an end at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, a reporter asked the Belichick if there was any chance his team was looking ahead to next week’s regular-season showdown in Pittsburgh with the Steelers. 

“No. Give me a break," he said. "Any questions about the game, or no?"

There were, but not many answers to be given. In the aftermath, Belichick’s players seemed to have a better grasp on the team’s performance than he was willing to offer up. A keyword kept being repeated. Energy. The Patriots felt like they just didn’t have enough.

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“We know we can’t come down here in a place like this and not play with energy,” said Duron Harmon. “We saw what happened to the Broncos. We just got behind too early and dug ourselves a hole that was too hard to come out of.”

“You gotta come down here with a ton of energy. A ton of determination,” said Nate Solder. “That's just the environment down here. We know that those guys play great at home. We know that we've had a lot of hard games here, and that just has to be the mentality.”

“They definitely played with a lot more energy than we did,” added Shaq Mason. “We got behind the eight ball and were just trying to fight uphill.”

For a team that has overcome plenty of deficits in the past, their reaction to Monday night’s slow start was troubling to Devin McCourty,

“I think it impacted us a little too much,” he said. “We knew this was a game we wanted to play from ahead but we gotta have the mental toughness that if it doesn’t go the way you want, you just gotta keep fighting.”

There was no sense that the Pats were primed for a letdown. In fact, the mood as the week went on was one of confidence but not overconfidence. Just days prior to the loss, McCourty was talking about how the team understood what they were and how they had gotten to this point - by preparing well and avoiding those bad days that eventually will catch up to you.

“We had a good week,” said McCourty. “In football, sometimes you come out and don’t play as well as you want to and that’s what it was. You play another good team that knows you well and you know them well and they’re on it a little more than you are. You’re a half step late. You saw that. It wasn’t like we never got anything going. We got some things at different times in the game but it was just too late.” 

“I felt like the energy all throughout the week, all throughout warmups, I felt we were ready to go,” Harmon said. “Sometimes it’s just not your day.”

Cameras captured Harmon giving a fiery speech during the game. Most of his teammates were stone-faced in response but to their credit, did seem to respond afterward. When I asked Harmon what the message was, he went back to the word of the night.

“Just trying to play with a little bit more energy. That’s it. We wasn’t playing the way we wanted to play. We wasn’t playing consistent. Everything we talked about doing as far as a Patriot defense, we weren’t doing.”

They paid the price for that, now must quickly reset and get back after it. This is a short week, and the Steelers are waiting.

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