Patriots

If this was Rob Gronkowski's last home game as a Patriot, he went out with a bang

If this was Rob Gronkowski's last home game as a Patriot, he went out with a bang

FOXBOROUGH – As the rumors of Rob Gronkowski’s potential flirtation with retirement swirl once again, one can’t help but wonder if Sunday afternoon was Rob Gronkowski’s final walk off the Gillette Stadium turf of his NFL career.

Asked about this possibility following the Patriots’ 41-28 thrashing of Los Angeles in an AFC divisional round matchup, Gronkowski said his focus was on the Chargers and that it would be the same way next week when the Patriots travel to Kansas City for the AFC Championship.

“I’m all-in right now,” he said. “We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs now. It’s going to be another week of preparation, and I haven’t thought about anything like that, so just got to go all-in, keep our focus and keep on doing what we’ve got to do.”

The 29-year-old veteran has taken countless brutal hits and battled numerous injuries throughout his nine-year career in New England, but has continually shot down speculation that he’s hanging up the cleats after this season. Last month, he told reporters he was “all-in” for 2018, saying, “I love the grind.”

Sunday morning, that speculation was brought to the forefront again by a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport saying Gronk will “strongly consider retirement” once the 2018 season has ended.

PATRIOTS 41, CHARGERS 28

So, Gronkowski was asked in a follow-up Sunday, what are the thoughts right now?

“That I’m going to have to enjoy the win,” he said. “That’s what we do. You get one night to enjoy the win, actually around here. You do, you get one night. And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, then it’s on to Kansas City.”

If this truly was No. 87’s last performance in front of the fans that have come to deify him over the last decade, it was defined in a manner perhaps too befitting of him. 

After all, how many skill-position players in the NFL can honestly say they dominated a game without even really touching the ball?

Gronkowski was targeted just once, his only catch coming on one of those customary lumbering car crashes over the middle that fans in New England have venerated time and again. And yet, those big, glue-trap mitts of No. 87 are all over the blueprint of every rushing touchdown New England scored. 

PATRIOTS 41, CHARGERS 28

Whether it was barrel-rolling into Darius Philon to open up Sony Michel’s first score of the game, a one-yard dive; velcroing himself to Hayes Pullard at the second level to open up the alley for Michel to dive at the pylon for his second score; putting Kyle Emanuel on roller skates for Rex Burkhead’s lone score; or leading the pile-push that netted Michel his third rushing score; this may have very well been one of Gronk’s most complete games of the season.

“Just to be able to run the ball, to be able to block, I mean, I’ve never taken it for granted,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve always loved run blocking. I love to do the balance of both.”  

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Aaron Rodgers has great response to critics of Patriots QB Tom Brady

Aaron Rodgers has great response to critics of Patriots QB Tom Brady

Some of the criticism thrown at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is just silly.

The most famous hot take on Brady's alleged decline came in the summer of 2016 when Max Kellerman said on ESPN's "First Take" that Brady would soon "fall off a cliff." Well, in the three years since Kellerman's bold remark, Brady has won two more Super Bowl titles (in three appearances) and an MVP award. 

Sometimes, you just have to laugh at these critics.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted to doing that during his appearance Tuesday on ESPN Radio's "The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz." Here's the exchange:

Question: Do you look at Brady the way we all do? Like, what the hell? He's 42, what the hell, Aaron.

Rodgers: "I do. I think I laugh with him a little bit when they replay some of the remarks, especially after that Chiefs game I think a lot of us remember from (2014) when the Chiefs kind of blew them out on a Sunday or Monday night and everyone was (saying), 'This is it. Brady's done. The Pats are done.' You look at what they've done since then. That's the beauty at times in this sport and playing, for him, at obviously such a high level. Sometimes you're looking around and you're like, 'Man, maybe I need some inspiration this week,' and having something like that to go back to whenever you want. People are just waiting for him to like regress, and it's like, it's not happening. Not happening. But the first time he has a game he doesn't throw three (touchdowns), it's gonna be like, 'Here it is. Here's the beginning.' And sure enough, there's a little more ammo for him to be like, 'What you say? Oh yeah? OK, cool. I'm going back to the Super Bowl.'" 

Rodgers has faced his own share of criticism over the last few years as the Packers have struggled to find playoff success, so he has a bit of an understanding of what Brady has dealt with over the last decade or so.

Brady and Rodgers went head-to-head last season for just the second time, and the Patriots prevailed in a 31-17 win at Gillette Stadium. It's possible that meeting was the last one before Brady retires, unless of course they square off in the Super Bowl.

And, judging by the way the Patriots and Packers have played through two games this season, a Brady-Rodgers showdown in Super Bowl LIV certainly is a possibility.

Only one player ahead of Tom Brady in latest MVP betting odds>>>

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Tom Brady trails only one player in latest 2019 NFL MVP betting odds

Tom Brady trails only one player in latest 2019 NFL MVP betting odds

The New England Patriots offense looks like a juggernaut through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, but there's still one player with better odds than Tom Brady to win NFL MVP.

The Patriots quarterback has thrown for 605 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions over two games. He's also completing 68.8 percent of his passes and has a near-perfect passer rating against blitzes.

These stats are impressive, but he still trails Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in several stat categories. Mahomes also happens to be the clear early favorite among oddsmakers to win the league's MVP award.

Here are the latest MVP odds from Caesars Palace:

Mahomes leads the NFL with 821 passing yards, and his eight touchdowns are tied for the league lead. The Chiefs, like the Patriots, are 2-0 after a pair of dominant performances.

The Chiefs quarterback won the Associated Press NFL MVP last season, and we haven't see a repeat winner of this award since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009. Brady last won in 2017 and has three AP MVPs on his resumé.

Both Brady and Mahomes will be top MVP candidates throughout the season, and the outcome of the Week 14 showdown between the Patriots and Chiefs at Gillette Stadium in December could play a meaningful role in the final voting. 

Latest Patriots vs. Jets Week 3 spread is laughably big>>>

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