Sunday, December 11, 2011
Grownkowski's greatness grows
Rich Lipski/AP PhotoIn not even two seasons, Rob Gronkowski has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier players.
Rob Gronkowski was unstoppable against the Redskins on Sunday.
He’s a household name not just because of the funky nickname, “Gronk,” but because he’s a record-holder.
Gronkowski set the NFL’s single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end in the New England Patriots win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. He has 15 touchdown catches with three games to go and has a chance to put major distance between himself and some of the others who now rate below him.
Gronkowski is the third Patriots player to score at least 15 touchdowns in a season, joining Curtis Martin, who did it twice, and Randy Moss, who set an NFL record with 23 touchdown catches in 2007.
Gronkowski now has 25 career touchdowns in just his second NFL season. That’s tied with Bob Haynes (1965) for the third-most receiving touchdowns in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history. The record is 29, set by Bill Groman in 1960 and 1961.
Gronkowski’s first touchdown was his league-leading 11th of the season on passes thrown into the end zone. No other receiver entered the late-afternoon games with more than six.
Gronkowski gained 34 yards after catch on his second touchdown, 30 of which came after contact. Overall, Gronkowski posted season-high totals with 120 yards after catch and 83 yards after contact on Sunday. His 160 receiving yards were one shy of the Patriots single-game record for most yards by a tight end. Ben Coates set the mark with 161 in 1994.
Gronkowski’s teammates compiled some other statistical accolades in this contest. Here’s a rundown:
The Patriots won their 10th game, giving them double-digit wins in nine straight seasons. That’s tied for the longest streak in NFL history with the Indianapolis Colts (2002 to 2010). The San Francisco 49ers had 16 straight seasons with at least 10 wins from 1983 to 1998.
The Patriots are 31-3 in their last 34 games against NFC teams. They’ve won five straight games overall, scoring at least 30 points in each.
Wide receiver Wes Welker’s seven catches gave him 100 for the season. It was his fourth season with at least 100 receptions, tied with Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice for the most such seasons in NFL history.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, giving him 294 for his career. He passed Warren Moon for the sixth-most touchdown throws in NFL history. Next in his sights: John Elway, who had exactly 300.
Brady was just 8-for-19 in the first half, but completed 14 of his 18 second-half throws, netting two of those three touchdowns.
Yates continues magical run for Texans
The Houston Texans may be down to their third-string quarterback, but T.J. Yates came through like a first-teamer in their division-clinching last-second win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Yates threw his second touchdown throw of the game to Kevin Walter with two seconds remaining for the winning score, one that clinched the team's first division title. He went 8-for-13 against four-or-fewer pass rushers in the second half, with both of his touchdowns. That was a significant improvement over the first half, in which he was just 5-for-10 with an interception and a 27.1 NFL passer rating.