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Miami Miracle puts a damper on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s best game of the season

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New England’s tight end had a terrific game, despite the last play.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With seven seconds left to go in the New England Patriots’ week 14 game in Miami, tight end Rob Gronkowski had every reason to feel good about his performance. However, sometimes it takes just a single play to turn the perception about an event 180 degrees around. Yesterday, this play involved a deep pass, two laterals, and a lot of bad tackling — and it also involved Gronkowski as the last line of defense.

Before the Patriots used him as a deep safety against a Hail Mary pass that never came, Gronkowski was dominant as an offensive centerpiece. Playing 78 of a possible 82 offensive snaps, the tight end looked like his old self for the first time since New England’s opening day win over the Houston Texans: he was as solid as usual as a blocker up front while also being a serious threat in the passing game.

As such, Gronkowski finished the contest with a season-high in receptions and caught all eight of the passes quarterback Tom Brady threw his way. In the process, the 29-year old gained 107 yards — his first 100-yard performance since week one — and scored his third touchdown of the year. It was, by all accounts, a very good performance by a player that had his fair share of ups and downs over the course of the season.

“I felt good out there, definitely. I’m making plays, blocking, getting some chemistry built back up,” Gronkowski told reporters during his postgame press conference. His development is certainly one to monitor moving forward and with the playoffs fast approaching. Despite the final result, yesterday was another step in the right direction for Gronkowski and as a result the Patriots offense as a whole.

“On the offensive unit, we’re moving the ball,” Gronkowski said following a 34-33 defeat that saw New England gain 421 yards of offense, go 9 of 16 on third down, and hold the football for more than 35 minutes. “I wish we could have put up more points when we could have in the red zone; but as a unit, we were playing well, moving the ball, and we’ve just got to continue that positive streak going of moving the ball on the offensive side.”

All the positive developments by New England’s offense as a whole and Gronkowski as a part of it were overshadowed by the Miami Miracle, however; the Dolphins’ last-second 69-yard play that resulted in a game-winning touchdown. As noted above, Gronkowski was on the field for that play serving his usual role as a deep safety asked to bat the football down on a potential Hail Mary pass. Miami, however, never threw the pass.

As a result of the play call and New England’s atrocious execution up front, Gronkowski found himself one-on-one against running back Kenyan Drake — despite the tight end’s athletic abilities a clear mismatch in Miami’s favor. Gronkowski, like the 10 full-time defenders he shared the field with, was unable to make a tackle and had to watch Drake run into the end zone for six points and an unlikely Dolphins victory.

The play naturally puts a damper on what otherwise was a very good game by Gronkowski. “I mean, that’s good enough,” he said when asked about his individual performance. “But it just shows what happens when you lose. You can have a great game, whatever, but if you don’t get the W, it really doesn’t matter. We’ve just got to always find ways to do more and just be ready to play 60 minutes of football every single time you step on the field.”

Yesterday, New England failed to do that — despite its tight end delivering arguably his best performance of the year. That being said, it was still encouraging to see Gronkowski finally make a big-time impact as a receiver again. If this is a sign of things to come, the Patriots should bounce back from their loss in Miami sooner rather than later.

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Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 9, 2018