Winning is great. Winning and setting a record is even better. Winning, setting a record, and being just a few catches shy of another record, does life get any better?
I submit that it can! Rob Gronkowski did all those things, AND he’s taking all-time tight end playoff records from a guy that tormented New England for a decade in the “how many Manningfaces are we going to get today?” glory years of the Patriots-Colts rivalry.
Going into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Gronk only needed 13 yards to pass Colts legend Dallas Clark’s all-time tight end record of 847 postseason receiving yards, a pretty amazing feat given the 2000s Colts’ well-documented tendency to faceplant in the playoffs. Our pal Robert is also breathing down the neck of Clark’s postseason receptions record (again, for tight ends) - Clark has 64, and Gronkowski came into the AFC Championship Game with 58. A typical Gronk day should’ve easily snagged both records.
Unfortunately, a typical Gronk day doesn’t involve getting cracked in the helmet and leaving the game right before halftime, so that receptions record will have to wait until next week. Before his injury, though, Rob snagged one catch for 21 yards right in between a pair of Jags defensive backs, and that’s more than enough to leapfrog Clark for the postseason yardage record.
That one catch still leaves Gronk three grabs short of Shannon Sharpe and five catches shy of Dallas Clark’s tight end postseason receptions record of 65. Assuming he’s able to hit the field for the Super Bowl, one would think that’d pretty much a done deal by the time the confetti drops.
Oh, we’re not done yet, guys - Pro Football Talk also was nice enough to point out that Mr. Gronkowski also is tied for the third-most playoff receiving touchdowns in NFL history, regardless of position. The only two guys with more playoff touchdowns than Gronk’s 10? Jerry Rice’s 22, and John Stallworth’s 12.
Put it another way, even though he missed the entire 2016 and 2013 playoffs and parts of the 2012 postseason, barring something crazy happening (bangs knuckles on the table), Gronk will be the most productive tight end in playoff history no matter how you slice it.
And for what it’s worth, our fearless leader Rich Hill already thinks New England’s offense is primed to eat against the wicked-aggressive Philadelphia Eagles defense in Minneapolis.
Keep it locked on the Pulpit for all things Super Bowl till then.