Gronkowski returned to limited practice on Thursday, his first on-field work since suffering a high left ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game.
Said Brady, "He played his butt off. He fought. He came out to our practice on Thursday and it's hard to believe he could play the game with the way he was feeling. He really toughed it out. He's a tough guy. He had a great season for us. You get bumps and bruises in this game and you have to fight through them and he did a great job fighting and being dependable for us all day."
Gronkowski did appear to be more of a decoy than a focus of the passing game. Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez was targeted a game-high 14 times and came up with eight games for a team-best 67 yards and a touchdown.
Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn said he thought the ankle injury might have played a role in Gronkowski being unable to get back to break up Blackburn's interception of an underthrown ball in the second half.
No Pain At Postgame Party
After the game, Gronkowksi was seen enjoying himself along with his teammates at a post Super Bowl party. He appeared to be feeling no pain as he and teammate Matt Light eventually ended up dancing shirtless, revelling with fellow teammates and band members.
The party, featuring LMFAO and Maroon 5, was an invite-only event held at Victory Field (site of the Indianapolis Indians minor league baseball team). If Gronkowski was limited by his ankle, this video and the one below, show he was feeling little pain after the team's devastating loss to New York just hours earlier.
|Gronkowski and co at Patriots after party|
Feeling The Pain
While some of the Patriots opted to party away the pain from losing Super Bowl 46, others including Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Brandon Spikes passed on the festivities.
Brady, stunned by the events that transpired prior to the conclusion of another Patriots' Super Bowl loss to the Giants, left the stadium with wife Gisele Bundchen shortly after giving a postgame presser where he still looked dazed. Brady's wife on the other hand, had a few choice words for his teammates as she let the impact from a Giants heckler frustrate her into saying something she's bound to regret.
Welker's emotions bubbled through his normally calm demeanor during a post game interview where hs shouldered blame for the loss on his dropped pass in the fourth quarter (link). "It's a catch I made a thousand times between practice and everything else," he told reporters after. "It's the biggest catch of my life and I don't come up with it. It's discouraging."
Spikes, taking to twitter, posted a disturbingly dark message on Twitter "Suicidal Thoughts ......." Nearly 24 hours later, it remains Spikes' last tweet. Perhaps he intended it that way. This was his post before:
"Retweet my last tweet ! Why? Because that's real ??! That's from the very bottom of my ?! I put that on everything! So go head. Handle that"
Spikes and his teammates had one heck of a run, aided by a miraculous missed field goal which propelled them into the Super Bowl. Lucky or not, some Patriots take a little less time than others to try to put it all behind them.
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Material from Howard Balzer and the Sports Xchange was used in this report.