Gronkowski demonstrates a nose for the end zone
Given the level of competition, it's hard to take
too much from New England's decisive, 34-3 victory over Kansas City on
Monday night. The Chiefs have leveled off since turning their season
around, and they entered Monday's game without starting quarterback
If anything new emerged from the lopsided game, it
might have been that the performance of tight end Rob Gronkowski
reaffirmed the idea that the offense now runs through him, not wide
receiver Wes Welker, as it had in the past.
Gronkowski finished with two touchdowns Monday
night, marking the second consecutive season in which he's had 10 or
more touchdowns (he also did it last year as a rookie). Furthermore,
Gronkowski has now reached 20 career touchdowns faster than any tight
end in NFL history.
The 6-foot-6, former second-round draft pick from
Arizona has become Tom Brady's most reliable weapon, not just because
of his size, strength and willingness to take a big hit over the
middle, but because of his nose for the end zone. Gronkowski is nearly
impossible to bring down, and he's a beastly blocker, too -- a rare
weapon that makes New England as much of a contender as anyone else in
"He's got great football intellect," Brady said of
Gronkowski. "The thing with him is if he makes a mistake, you can
pretty much count on that that mistake will never happen again. With
all players and especially young players -- and I remember this
thinking back when I was a young player -- you're going to make
mistakes because you haven't seen everything.
"Your lack of experience isn't your fault, you
just haven't seen everything. Rob, since his first rookie minicamp, has
continued to get better and continued to make improvements. He's very
smart out there. He's very tough. His physical skill -- you saw he's
got great speed and he's a flexible guy. He can really bend. He's not
very stiff for a guy that is his size. That's why he's able to break
all of those tackles."
The Patriots are still a work in progress
defensively, and while they ultimately ran the Chiefs off the field
Monday night, it still took them three quarters to do so. There's a lot
of work to be done, but Gronkowski's presence makes them a tremendous
threat offensively and a potentially dangerous opponent in the
Brady passes Montana on victories list
--Tom Brady earned his 118th win as a starting
quarterback to move past Joe Montana for seventh place on the all-time
list for regular-season victories. Johnny Unitas is in sixth place with
Brady also reached 25 touchdowns for the seventh
time in his career, tying Dan Marino for third on the NFL all-time list
for most seasons with 25 or more touchdowns.
--Bill Belichick earned his 184th career
regular-season victory as a head coach with Monday's win against Kansas
Belichick moved past Bill Parcells into sole
possession of ninth place on the NFL's all-time list. Chuck Knox is
eighth with 193 career wins.
--The Patriots' defense held the Chiefs to just
three points Monday, as New England set a season best for fewest points
The last time the Patriots held a team to three
points or fewer was in a 34-3 victory at Buffalo in December 2010. In
terms of yards allowed, the Chiefs gained 334 total net yards, which is
the second-lowest total allowed by the Patriots this season, trailing
only the 255 net yards allowed to the New York Jets on Oct. 9.
--DB Kyle Arrington had two interceptions Monday,
and he leads the NFL with seven. The last Patriots player to lead the
league in interceptions was Asante Samuel with 10 in 2006.
--With two touchdowns Monday, Rob Gronkowski now
has 20 career touchdowns. He reached the 20-touchdown mark in just 26
career games, the fewest games among tight ends in NFL history.
--WR Wes Welker extended his streak to 71
consecutive regular-season games with at least one reception as a
Patriot, extending his franchise record. Welker has an overall streak
of 88 consecutive regular-season games with at least one reception,
including his time with the Dolphins.
--LT Matt Light suffered a right ankle injury late
in Monday's game and did not return. He was spotted in a walking boot
--WR Deion Branch injured his hamstring Monday
night but returned following a brief absence and finished the game. He
had two catches for 19 yards.
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