Patriots Notes: Why Rob Gronkowski Actually Enjoyed Blocking J.J. Watt


September 24, 2017

FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from a hot and highly exciting New England Patriots victory Sunday at Gillette Stadium:

— As he is wont to do, Danny Amendola came through in the clutch yet again for the Patriots in their 36-33 win over the Houston Texans.

Amendola, who missed last Sunday’s game with a concussion and a knee injury, caught just three passes in his return to the lineup, but two extended Patriots drives on third down, with his final grab going for 27 yards on third-and-18 with less than a minute remaining and the Pats trailing by five.

One play later, Tom Brady hit Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass that won New England the game.

“It comes down to a lot of preparation and a lot of work throughout the week and being in the right spot at the right time,” Amendola said on his affinity for making clutch third-down catches. “Getting open and trying to make plays for my guys. That’s my job.”

Amendola also racked up 53 yards on two punt returns.

— Amendola also commented on the Patriots’ pregame national anthem protest, which included more than a dozen players kneeling during the anthem and several others locking arms.

“We’re solid in here, I know that,” he said. “White, black, Puerto Rican — it don’t matter. We’re good in here, and we have a really solid group.”

— Since struggling in the Patriots’ season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady has been nearly perfect. He threw five touchdown passes with zero interceptions Sunday and led yet another fourth-quarter comeback despite getting battered by Houston’s vaunted pass rush throughout the afternoon.

“Legendary,” rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise said. “He’s just a legend.”

Brady also made a spectacular play on an otherwise nondescript 8-yard gain on third-and-21. As he was being engulfed by several Texans defenders, the quarterback somehow flipped the ball through traffic to tight end Rob Gronkowski, avoiding a would-be sack.

“I mean, they have a lot of good players on the D-line,” Brady said. “They rush the quarterback. We had some opportunity there, and we just kept fighting. That was the most important thing. When we were in this stadium a couple weeks ago, we talked a lot about that — playing four quarters and playing all the way down to the last minute — and we needed it (Sunday).”

— Gronkowski finished with a team-high eight catches on 10 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown, and he also contributed extra as a blocker in an effort to neutralize Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who had two QB hits and three tackles for loss.

The big tight end had no issue with that assignment.

“I don?t really care what my role is, whether it?s blocking, if it?s receiving a lot,” Gronkowski said. “I just appreciate that I?m out there playing the game. Whatever role the coaches want me to do — if it?s jamming, if it?s blocking, I?ve got no problem, especially a game like that. I don?t think I would?ve made it if I ran 50 routes today, because I?m usually running deep, up and down. So I actually appreciated being in there and jamming J.J. a few times instead of going out on a route.

“I mean, it?s helping out the team jamming the pass rush so Tom gets more time, and also, at the same time, a guy covering in man is sitting there. So it?s kind of like taking two guys for one helping out the team that way. I have no problem doing that on a day like today.”

In fact, Gronkowski seemed to enjoy just about everything about Sunday’s game.

“That was a great NFL football game,” he said afterward. “After that win, I was like, ?That?s what NFL football is right there?. You?ve got great players on both sides of the ball, on the defensive side, the offensive side of both teams and everyone fighting to the end and playing in that heat, too. I mean, it was a battle.””

— Temperatures hovered around the mid-to-high 80s throughout the game — unseasonably warm for late September in New England.

“It was like Houston came to town, and they (brought) the weather,” cornerback Malcolm Butler said.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images


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