Brady's Has Special Weapon In 'Gronk'

New England has found a special player in Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady knows 'Gronk' may be his beast weapon after Wes Welker.

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 Matt Cassel.

   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 the AFC.

   "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 postseason.

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 119 wins.

   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 City.
   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 allowed.

   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 afterward.
   --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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