FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rob Gronkowski's neck had just bent in a way that no neck should ever bend, but nothing was going to detour him from his trademark spike, not even a cringeworthy crash after being upended en route to the end zone on a third-quarter touchdown Monday night.
Gronkowski staggered to his feet and spiked the ball -- maybe slightly less emphatically than we've come to know -- after his second touchdown in New England's 34-3 thrashing of the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.
Impossibly, he was right back on the field on the Patriots' next offensive series, missing just a protection assignment on the PAT after his score. So how's his neck doing?
"It feels great," an emphatic Gronkowski said. "It might even feel better now."
Gronkowski will probably be sore Tuesday morning, but he said trainers gave him a concussion test Monday and deemed him capable of returning to action. (He joked he even started giving the trainers his own math problems to show he was fine.) Gronkowski finished with team-highs with four catches for 96 yards to go along with his two scores, giving him 10 on the year.
That included a 52-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter, the longest of his career. What's more, Gronkowski became the fastest tight end to 20 career touchdowns (a mere 26 games), besting Mike Ditka's mark (31). He admitted he's playing with a lot of confidence and is in no hurry to go down when the ball comes his way.
But he does still pinch himself sometimes.
"It's still pretty crazy. It's still a dream come true to be in the NFL," he said. "Some days I wake up, talk to [Patriots linebacker] Dane [Fletcher], my roommate, and we’re like, ‘Dude, we're in the NFL!' It’s crazy still. We still can’t kind of believe it. It’s playing with all these great players that we looked up to when we were in high school and even middle school. It's so much fun coming out. But you've got to treat every moment like it's your last."
And that's why, once he realized he was fine after the scary fall, he made sure to spike the ball.