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Tom Brady knows: Rob Gronkowski is still big stuff

Rob Gronkowski only had three catches on Sunday night aganst the Chiefs, but they were good for 97 yards.
Rob Gronkowski only had three catches on Sunday night aganst the Chiefs, but they were good for 97 yards.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady made the rounds after the Patriots win Sunday night, hand-shaking and back-patting all the way, from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce to his own offensive line, but he saved a few special moments for Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski thanked Brady for coming to him on a go route for 39 yards on one of the final plays of the game, and Brady saying he always looks Gronkowski’s way in the big moments.

“It was just a great moment, I mean, after a great football game,” Gronkowski said Monday. “To go down, end of the drive, end of the game, make that play. Just a great moment during a regular-season ‘Sunday Night Football’ game.”


Gronkowski, who finished with three catches on four targets for 97 yards, was shut down for most of the game, but he made two of its biggest plays during crunch time. One topic this season has been whether the big tight end has slowed a tick, or if defenses have been able to limit him because the Patriots haven’t forced them to put attention elsewhere.

Gronkowski said he doesn’t think his defenders get away with pass interference or illegal contact on him more than anyone else. There were plays Sunday night where it looked like a defender was hanging on him more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

“I’ve just got to find ways to get open,” Gronkowski said.

What was clear was that when the Patriots ran plays to help Gronkowski, he rewarded them. On his 42-yard gain on the Patriots second-to-last drive, Gronkowski lined up next to left tackle Trent Brown, who blocked Chiefs safety Jordan Lucas, allowing Gronkowski to get off the line free.

Brady faked a toss to Sony Michel, who was going right, causing the defense to flow that way as well. That left nobody close to Gronkowski, who caught Brady’s pass and stiff-armed Ron Parker to pick up extra yards after the catch.


“[Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s] play-calling has been great,” Gronkowski said. “Just the way he came up and designed that play, it was awesome. It was a great call, great play he designed. It was just awesome to be part of it.”

Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.