Gronkowski breaks Patriots TD record in Buffalo homecoming
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. » Rob Gronkowski understands growing up in Buffalo doesn’t make him immune to the cold welcome reserved for visiting teams — and that especially includes the Bills’ AFC East rival Patriots.
“For sure, you get like 50 middle fingers from people in the first three rows,” Gronkowski said.
On Sunday, Gronk got in the last word during a 41-25 win over the Bills .
His 53-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter sparked a surge in which the Patriots scored on five consecutive possessions. And he also broke a pair of franchise records. The touchdown was the 69th of his career and 68th receiving, breaking the previous marks held by Stanley Morgan.
That Gronkowski did it in his hometown and in the same stadium he once attended rooting for the Bills made it extra special.
“I definitely envisioned big things, but nothing on the scale of this,” Gronkowski said, reflecting on his childhood. “It’s just an unbelievable honor.”
Driving up the right sideline, Gronkowski cut into the middle and caught Tom Brady’s pass in stride a couple of steps ahead of cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. Gronkowski then immediately turned upfield and sauntered into the end zone, where he capped the score with a hard spike.
After celebrating with his teammates, Gronkowski turned and bowed in what was a tribute to his mother, Diane.
She caught up with her son at the team hotel on Saturday and told him how proud she would be for him to break the record.
“I was like, I’ve got to give her a shoutout for letting me know she’s super proud of me,” Gronkowski said. “Hi mom, and thank you.”
And his father, Gordie, was enjoying the moment in a stadium suite, surrounded by about 80 family members and friends.