Josh Gordon’s responsibilities continue to grow — now he’s playing defense
CHICAGO — The deep ball is Josh Gordon’s specialty — and that goes for offense and defense.
Gordon continued his impressive rise up the Patriots’ depth chart in New England’s 38-31 victory over the Bears Sunday before 62,389 at the marvel that is Soldier Field.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound monster receiver caught four passes for 100 yards, including a key 55-yard reception in the fourth quarter, and also played a little deep safety at the end of the first half and the game.
Gordon was sent in to play center field on the final play of the game and was right in the middle of the action, nearly getting a hand on Mitchell Trubisky’s near miracle Hail Mary toss.
“I wanted to grab it, somebody else wanted to grab it. Pushing and pulling and everything like that,’’ said Gordon, trying to explain the final play. “[Kevin White] ended up with it, and it was a great play for him, definitely. But fortunately enough, we were able to hold him out of the end zone.’’
Gordon nearly found the end zone on offense, but also came up a 1 yard short after he “got a little bit tired” at the end of his 55-yard reception.
“But you know, it was fun. It was great,’’ he said. “I’m glad I got a good touch on the ball and was able to make something happen.’’
With Rob Gronkowski out with a back injury, Gordon knew he’d be in for a heavy workload against the Bears.
“Yeah, Coach [Josh] McDaniels mentioned it to us,’’ Gordon said. “I think we were prepared for it mentally and we practiced different looks and different groupings and personnels to offset that and I think collectively as a group, we showed that we can hold our own without him but we’ll be glad to have him back.’’
Back injury for Gronk
The Patriots officially downgraded Gronkowski Sunday morning after the All-Pro tight end didn’t make the trip to Chicago.
Gronkowski, who has been on the injury report because of a balky ankle the past few weeks, didn’t travel with the team Saturday and was labeled as “doubtful.” The team didn’t rule him out then because there was still a glimmer of hope he could travel to Chicago on his own. This is the first missed game of the season for Gronkowski, who is second on the team with 26 catches for a team-high 405 yards and a touchdown.
Although he was out of sight, he was not out of mind, as both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Van Noy paid homage to their teammate with big spikes after their touchdowns.
“That was a Gronk spike,” Van Noy said. “A shout-out to my man, Robby G.”
Allen lone tight end
The Patriots made Keionta Davis and Brian Schwenke their final inactives after previously declaring tight end Jacob Hollister, tackle Marcus Cannon, and defensive ends John Simon (shoulder) and Geneo Grissom (ankle) out. Dwayne Allen was the team’s lone healthy tight end and did his usual yeoman’s work as a blocker, though he wasn’t targeted in the passing game.
Bentley on board
Patriots rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who is on injured reserve with a torn right biceps, made the trip to Chicago and worked out before the game with teammates.
Bentley, who has been a more frequent presence in the locker room lately, was wearing a large brace on his arm as he did his work. Bentley, who was injured late in the Lions game, might just be along for the ride as he continues to learn about life in the NFL — the Patriots have done this with some rookies in recent years — but it leaves open the possibility that he could return this season. The first game he’d be eligible to play is Dec. 2, when the Vikings visit New England.
Rex Burkhead (neck) and rookie defensive back Duke Dawson (hamstring) also are injured reserve players who have a chance to return this season.
The Patriots recorded two interceptions and now have at least one in all seven games . . . New England is an NFL-best 60-18 in October since 2000 . . . Brady improved to 5-0 against the Bears. He’s also never lost to the Falcons (5-0), Cowboys (4-0), Vikings (4-0), and Buccaneers (4-0) . . . Ted Karras played on offense and special teams in his first game at Soldier Field as a pro. His grandfather, the late Ted Karras, helped the Bears to the 1963 World Championship at Soldier Field.