FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez caught some heat from the coaching staff for dropping a touchdown pass that turned into an interception last week against the Jets. He also fumbled the ball away in the red zone during the third quarter of a tie game Sunday against the Cowboys.
But Hernandez fancies himself as a great player, and those types of performers always know how to bounce back and make things right. Hernandez did just that, hauling in a missile from Tom Brady to score the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the Patriots' 20-16 victory against Dallas.
"He was able to redeem himself [Sunday]," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "Luckily, he got that chance. That opportunity doesn't always come again."
Hernandez set a new career high with eight receptions that amounted to 68 receiving yards. Hernandez also set the pace during Tom Brady's game-winning drive, catching his first pass for a 16-yard gain.
Hernandez's retribution had his teammates glowing about him in the locker room, noting his considerable improvement as an overall player from his rookie season and his ability to improve Brady's passing attack.
"You've got to forget about that stuff, which he did," tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "He forgot about that fumble, went out and got the game-winning touchdown. That's definitely mental toughness there, and he did a great job, just kept on fighting. He definitely never let down. He's a tough guy."