FOXBORO — It took three quarters and a little over five minutes, but Patriots fans finally received the gift they had been waiting six weeks for.
A Rob Gronkowski spike.
Out since Week 10 with a broken forearm, the superstar tight end made his much-anticipated return to the field yesterday. He sent the Pats fans who braved the 16-degree temperature (with wind chill) and snow-covered seats into hysterics with 9:20 to go in the fourth quarter when he caught a Tom Brady pass and cruised in for a 23-yard touchdown.
Then there was The Spike. You know, the celebration that has sold a few million Dunkin’ Donuts sandwiches this fall.
“It was huge to have Gronk back today,” said fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez. “When Gronk is on the field, defenses have to pay attention. He’s too big and too athletic. It opens things up for me and Wes (Welker) and Deion (Branch) and everyone really. And he’s going to be even healthier and more ready to go for the next game.”
Was it vintage Gronk, maybe the most unstoppable player in the NFL? Probably not.
After all, two catches for 42 yards is hardly a career day for the man that delivered the greatest season for a tight end in NFL history last year.
But after missing five game with a broken forearm suffered in the victory over the now red-hot Indianapolis Colts back on Nov. 18, what truly mattered was that Gronkowski, the NFL’s most feared, goofiest superstar was back in action.
“Turn on the film and you will see what makes Gronk special,” said backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. “He runs routes like a receiver, and with his size and speed he’s practically impossible to cover for a defensive back, safety, anybody. That rare ability shows up every week.”