ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Just a week after finishing with two catches and 21 yards, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski logged his first 100-yard receiving effort of the season against the Bills, the NFL franchise located nearest to where he grew up in Williamsville, N.Y.
However, Gronkowski's homecoming started off on the wrong foot as he fumbled for just the second time in his career in the second quarter, and also missed out on an opportunity for a long score on a dropped pass from quarterback Tom Brady.
"Yeah, it's tough, I had a fumble and everything, a couple of drops, and I just need to execute plays," Gronkowski said of getting back on the field after the fumble. "I can't be having that. It hurts the team a lot, I need to be protecting the ball better. No doubt about that. It's awesome that Tom came back to me, trusted my abilities, trusted me the whole game, kept throwing me passes."
"It's not a great feeling at all. I can tell you that right now," he said. "The very next play they throw a touchdown into the end zone. The thing is, you've got to overcome things, just like if you have a great play you've got to move on and stick with the game plan and keep moving on forward."
Despite the halftime hole he and the offense dug the team into with two turnovers, Gronkowski stressed that there was no panic.
"It wasn't the end of the game, it was only the second half, we knew we were kind of making some plays, we just had to keep on executing and making plays," he said. "You don't want to panic because when you panic, nothing good happens, and we just stick to what our offense does, our game plan. Everyone on the offense was doing a great job: the O-linemen to the receivers, the running backs, the quarterback, everything went well from there."
The Patriots' offense kicked the execution into another gear in the second half, scoring touchdowns on six straight drives.
"It's not as easy as it looks," Gronkowski said. "It's the NFL, those guys are out there, they are great players, you've got to work your butt off, you've got to be going full speed in order to execute in order to make plays. Overall, everyone just came together, chemistry, and worked hard, and things went rolling from the third quarter on."
The second-year tight end said playing near his hometown and in front of friends and family was great.
"It's great coming home, friends and family, it's great to give them that victory too, but I'm proud to be a New England Patriot," he said.