Gronkowski breaks Pa­tri­ots TD record in Buf­falo home­com­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By John Wawrow

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.

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