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Rob Gronkowski dedicates win over Titans to late friend

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates his touchdown catch in front of Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson (54) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Rob Gronkowski gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski played Sunday with a heavy heart following the death of a friend.

Before the game, Gronkowski, who missed practice in Friday for personal reasons, posted on Facebook that he was dedicating the game to his friend Dana Parenteau.

In the first quarter, Gronkowski pointed skyward after scoring the Patriots’ first touchdown.

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“My good friend loved the game of football, [he] loved being at all my games, always had my back. I definitely dedicate that touchdown to him. I pointed up. I know he was up there watching. [I] just definitely made that score for him and I know he was going crazy knowing that it was dedicated to him.”

This one's for Dana. #GameTime

Posted by Rob Gronkowski -Gronk on�Sunday, December 20, 2015

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Gronkowski was asked if Parenteau’s death made it difficult for the tight end to prepare for Sunday’s game.

“I know he would want me to go out there and whoop some booty, which we did as a team. He’s pumping me up before the games and loves seeing me go out there and ball,” he said. “That’s what we did today and I know he’s up there and he’s proud.”

Quarterback Tom Brady said Gronkowski was tough all game long for the Patriots.

“It was great to get him in the end zone there early and get ahead,” he said. “That was a big play. He got open. It was single coverage, he got the outside leverage, and I just tried to put it on him. He’s been through a lot this week. I’m sure he’s happy to get the win like we all are.”