Mark Schofield counts down his five most important New England Patriots offensive plays of the year, with Rob Gronkowski‘s unstoppable tour of the Indianapolis Colts secondary. Click here for Play #3: Amendola’s Scramble, Play #4: Edelman’s Dash and Play #5: Wright’s Catch.
Top 5 Patriots’ Offensive Plays of 2014 – Play #2 – Rob Gronkowski Rumbles – Week 11 vs Indianapolis
After undergoing reconstructive surgery for his torn ACL and MCL in late 2013, tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to live action on a limited basis for New England’s season-opener against the Miami Dolphins, catching four passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. As the season progressed, so did Gronkowski. He caught touchdowns in Weeks 3 and 4, notching his first 100-yard receiving game in Week 5 against Cincinnati. Later, he exploded for nine catches and 149 yards – with three TDs – against the Chicago Bears in New England’s Week 8 romp. But if there was one play that convinced Patriots Nation, and the world, that Gronkowski was back to 100% it was his 26-yard catch-and-score in the regular-season against the Indianapolis Colts.
Midway through the fourth quarter, New England has the football with a 15-point lead and just under seven minutes remaining. The Patriots face 3rd and 5 at the Colts’ 26-yard line. With 12 personnel on the field, Tom Brady stands in the shotgun with Shane Vereen to his right. New England has a trips formation to the right, with wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell split wide, and Gronkowski in a wing alignment. Tight end Tim Wright lines up to the left with a narrow split between him and the left tackle. The Colts have their base defense in the game using Cover 1 in the secondary:
Just prior to the snap, Gronkowski motions from right to left, forming a stack-slot alignment with Wright. As the play begins, Gronkowski heads on a simple out route while Edelman runs a slant route from right to left, crossing through the middle of the field:
Colts’ linebacker D’Qwell Jackson covers Gronkowski’s out route but Brady finds the tight end, who hauls in the football at the 21-yard line:
Then, a Gronking to Remember begins:
Gronkowski ignores Jackson’s attempt at a tackle and cuts upfield. Strong safety Mike Adams (#29) tries to chop at the football, but the otherworldly specimen dismisses him. Cornerback Greg Toler (#28) has the next chance, but the TE strides over him like a father stepping over the family pet in the middle of the night while searching for the rest room. From there it is a race to the goal-line, where Gronkowski meets defensive backs Darius Butler (#20) and Vontae Davis (#21). Gronk vaults over Davis, launching himself into the end zone for the touchdown.
Not to be ignored on this play is the effort from Edelman. The wide receiver ran a slant route from the other side of the field, and was in perfect position to deliver both a textbook block and the early celebration:
Gronkowski’s touchdown closed the book on the scoring that night, a Patriots drubbing finishing 42-20. The tight end finished the regular season with 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, and earned the Pro Football Writers of America’s Comeback Player of the Year award. But in a season filled with tremendous plays by the tight end it was this catch-and-score that stood out, convincing Patriots fans that their gigantic target was back – and back big:
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Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.
All video and images courtesy the NFL and NFL Game Rewind.