ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rob Gronkowski’s otherwise stellar performance Sunday ended on an unfortunate note after a rare after-the-whistle outburst by the New England Patriots tight end.
During the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 23-3 win over the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field, Gronkowski was flagged for unnecessary roughness after he delivered a cheap shot to the back of Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White’s head.
The late hit came after White, one of the NFL’s best rookie defensive backs, intercepted a pass intended for Gronkowski. The Bills later announced White was being evaluated for a head injury.
Gronkowski was not ejected for the hit but spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Speaking at his locker afterward, he apologized to White.
“First of all, I want to apologize to No. 27,” Gronkowski said. “I’m not in the business of that. It was a lot of frustration. I was just really frustrated in that moment, and it just happened naturally through emotions and frustration. I just want to apologize to Tre’Davious White. I don’t really believe in the type of shots like that, but just through the frustration process, the game of football, emotions — it’s just what happened.”
Gronkowski’s frustration stemmed from a belief that White had held him on the play — and that the officials hadn’t called a fair game.
“I felt like it was a big hold at the top (of the route), and then the throw was definitely — I mean, I feel like he was kind of pushing me a little bit,” said Gronkowski, who was called for offensive pass interference and offensive holding in the game. “And he made the play, and I just don’t understand why there wasn’t a flag. And there was a couple times in the game — they’re calling me for the craziest stuff ever. It’s crazy. Like, what am I supposed to do? And then they don’t call that? It was just frustration, and that’s what happened.”
Asked whether he believes this has been the case over the past few games, as well, Gronkowski responded: “Over the past seven years.”
Before ending his day with an ugly penalty, Gronkowski manhandled the Bills’ defense, catching nine passes on 11 targets for 147 yards in the win. It was Gronk’s most productive game ever in his hometown of Buffalo, and that’s saying something. He’s gone over 100 yards in five of his seven career trips to New Era Field.
“It was a great day,” Gronkowski said as the Patriots celebrated their eighth consecutive victory. “It was a great team win overall. I wouldn’t say (the penalty) put a damper on it, because we just got a good win on the road over a solid team.”