Rob Gronkowski sets TD record

Updated: December 11, 2011, 9:26 PM ET
ESPNBoston.com

LANDOVER, Md. -- Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots set the record for most touchdown catches in a season by a tight end, raising his total to 15 with two Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

The previous mark of 13 TD catches by a tight end originally was set by Antonio Gates in 2004, then matched by Vernon Davis in 2009.

Gronkowski's record-breaking 14th score came on an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady with 5:49 left in the first quarter. That capped a two-play, 60-yard drive; the other play of the series was a 49-yard catch-and-run by Gronkowski.

Following the play, Gronkowski emphatically spiked the ball into the end zone at FedEx Field. Almost immediately, as if realizing his mistake, Gronkowski played the role of outfielder, searching for the football as it rebounded off the turf.

"I got the ball back and everything, so it was cool," Gronkowski said, later joking he'd use the record-setting ball to practice his spikes in the offseason. "It was cool to get a record and everything, but that really doesn't matter. We got the team victory."

Added Gronkowski on the 49-yard catch: "There was no whistles or nothing, I was just running," Gronkowski said. "When I don't hear a whistle I just keep playing."

Gronkowski tumbled to the ground after the completion, which set up his touchdown strike on the next play, but was ruled not down by contact.

"Tom just made a great throw. The defender was right there. [Brady] put it where no one could get it besides me," Gronkowski said. "I just made the catch, and I just noticed that the guy didn't touch me at all. So I just got up, started running, it just happened to spin off a couple guys and everything."

For his second score, on the opening drive of the second half, Gronkowski caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Brady, dragging linebacker Ryan Kerrigan along for a few steps before breaking free. That score, with 12:05 remaining in the third quarter, put New England ahead 27-20. The Patriots held on to win, 34-27.

To celebrate, he took an impromptu "Lambeau leap" into the stands.

"I don't know. I just do things on the spot. I never thought of that before," Gronkowski responded when asked if his celebration was preconceived. "I just saw the guy in the New England jersey in the first row. So, gotta give him some props. Gotta give him some love."

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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