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The Patriots rolled over the Bears, and Rob Gronkowski, the Incredible Hulk's younger, more outgoing brother, was a big reason why. The tight end played a great job today.

The Bears basically had to hope linebackers in coverage could minimize Gronkowski's damage, but they were already thin at the position before the game started: Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic were declared inactive. Replacement Darryl Sharpton left with a hamstring injury, and the secondary, by necessity, had to play a bigger role in covering the tackle-breaking Gronkowski. It didn't go well for them.


Gronkowski spiked the ball in the end zone three times today, finishing with nine receptions on nine targets for 149 yards. The Bears had no answer for him, and even when he wasn't targeted, he was useful. Other New England receivers thrived in their matchups: Brandon LaFell caught 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, while second tight end Tim Wright caught a one-yard touchdown pass amid his seven catches for 61 yards. Gronk went to the locker room after his third score, but it was apparently for "dehydration," or "we're winning by enough, thanks."

Tom Brady probably loves this production, too. The quarterback is over his inaccurate start to the season, and fully in tune with his 6-foot-6 target. Brady was lights out to anyone he threw to today, finishing with 30 completions on 35 attempts, five touchdowns, and 345 passing yards.

Gronkowski's 2013 season was basically a wash, as he came back from a broken arm in Week 7, only to suffer a torn ACL and concussion in Week 14. Sporting a huge arm brace this season, he gradually became more comfortable taking hits, and did his best to preserve himself. Seeing Gronk at full speed again is a delight.


Photo: Getty

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