And just like that, we're into the Top 10.
Just 10 more of these, and then it will be time for the season to start again. It's kind of crazy when you think about it. Also crazy is that, up until now, The Top 20 Most Memorable Moments of 2016 has been noticeably devoid of a player who is usually a staple on this list. Well I'm happy to be remedying that today.
First, he list so far:
20. The New England Patriots trade Jamie Collins to Cleveland for a bag of peanuts.
19. LeGarrette Blount runs through the entire Seahawks line on his way to the end zone.
18. A Chris Long strip sack helps to ice the game against the New York Jets.
17. The Patriots defense shuts down Trevor Siemian and the Denver Broncos on the road.
16. LeGarrette Blount owns Byron Maxwell with an epic hurdle.
15. A different kind of Malcolm Go highlights a convincing road win against the San Francisco 49ers.
14. Chris Hogan finds some nice redemption against his old team in the form of a beautiful 53 yard TD.
13. Shea McClellin leaps the line to block a FG against the Baltimore Ravens.
12. LeGarrette Blount sets a franchise record with his 15th rushing TD of the year against the Denver Broncos.
11. Tom Brady hits Chris Hogan for a 79 yard TD to ice the game against the Baltimore Ravens.
10 is a pretty meaningful number, so it's kind of fitting that, coming in at #10, is yet another pretty meaningful number - especially from a Patriots standpoint.
10. Rob Gronkowski sets a Patriots All-Time receiving TD record by notching his 69th against the Buffalo Bills.
This Patriots/Bills game has already made an appearance on this countdown, as Chris Hogan's 53 yard TD reception hit this list at 14, so there's no need to go into too much detail recapping it all here. It was a blowout, with the 41-25 score making the game seem way closer than it actually was, and Tommy B's 22 of 33 for 315 yards and four touchdowns propelled him to 26-3 all-time against Buffalo, which is an absolutely absurd number. The game was relatively close, 14-10, until there were about five minutes left in the 2nd half, and which point New England broke the game wide open by scoring 27 points over their next five possessions. And while they were all great scores in their own way, it was the first one that folks will always remember.
After the Bills were able to engineer a five play, 59 yard drive that ended with a three yard TD run by newest Patriot Mike Gillislee, New England started their ensuing drive from the 24 yard line.a four yard Blount run and a 19 yard Chris Hogan reception moved them up to the 44, and then Blount was able to gain three yards on 1st and 10 to set up 2nd and 7 at the 47 yard line.
The Patriots came out in shotgun with RB James White in the backfield before Brady motioned him out wide to the left Chris Hogan was in the tight left slot with Edelman in the right slot, Gronk lined up just to his right. Across from Gronk was Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is 5'9" if he stands on his tip toes. Tommy B, seeing the mismatch pre-snap, motioned White out wide in order to draw the linebackers away from the middle of the field, and stared Gronkowski down right from the snap. Gronk ran a simple post route, got separation from Robey-Coleman, and Brady hit him right in stride for the 53 yard score. A dramatic bow and a monster spike later, it was 21-10, and the rout was on.
With the touchdown, Gronk became the Patriots all-time touchdown leader with...wait for it...69. His predecessor, Stanley Morgan, held the record for decades with 68, but Gronk now stands alone as the Patriot who has seen the end zone the most. This one s especially meaningful, as it was a huge catch and run that not only essentially iced the game for the Patriots, but gave everyone a good giggle in the process. Had it been pretty much any player in the league, Gronk making such a big deal about scoring TD number 69 would have seemed forced and inappropriate...but he's just such a lovable goof, you can't help but smile. Unfortunately, it would represent the last TD Gronk would score last year, as he had season ending back surgery shortly thereafter. Let's just all hope that Gronk doesn't decide to keep that number at 69 strictly for hilarity's sake. Still, it's well deserving of being the first play to crack what is going to be a pretty amazing Top 10.
Check out the play here.
Pats/Bills highlights here.