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Graham, Gronkowski go back and forth with tight end yardage mark

Rob Gronkowski AP

The next time a coach says that he doesn’t pay attention to the individual numbers of his players, roll your eyes.  (If you weren’t already.)

With Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham entering the day at 1,219 and 1,213 yards, respectively, both were gunning for Kellen Winslow’s single-season record of 1,290.

And they both got there, in unusual fashion.

Graham first set the record.  Then, Gronkowski passed him, after Graham and other New Orleans offensive starters had been removed from the route over the Panthers.

So Saints coach Sean Payton put Graham back in, and Graham took the record back from Gronkowski.

And then Pats coach Bill Belichick put Gronkowski back in late, giving him the final record on a 22-yard catch that preceded three straight kneel downs by quarterback Brian Hoyer to end the game.

Gronkowski finished with 108 yards, and Graham had 97.  For the season, Gronkowski ends with 1,327 and Graham petered out at 1,310.

Along the way, a 31-year-old record changed hands four times.

Some will say it was an unacceptable risk by both coaches — and a display or less-than-stellar sportsmanship — to put two key players back into games that had been decided for the sole purposes of bumping up their own numbers.  Setting those opinions aside for now, the fact is that these coaches always know where their players stand statistically in game where those statistics are relevant.

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27 Responses to “Graham, Gronkowski go back and forth with tight end yardage mark”
  1. sepnasty says: Jan 1, 2012 4:31 PM

    The NFL is turning into College football! what a joke!

  2. mcfierce24 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:32 PM

    Difference is, Belichick never took Gronkowski out.

  3. caseyanthonymunoz says: Jan 1, 2012 4:33 PM

    The difference is one can block and the other can’t. No fan of the Patriots but you gotta give em credit for finding this guy in the 2nd round after other teams shied away because of back surgery. Makes up for some of horrible busts they’ve picked regarding defensive backs.

  4. pynflfan says: Jan 1, 2012 4:35 PM

    GRONK is a monster but graham is also good

  5. cunninglinguist69 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:36 PM

    GRONK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. cubsisles72 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:37 PM

    Which is why their players love playing for them, respect them, play hard for them and therefore…win for them. Pats going to the Super Bowl again, probably vs the Saints.

  7. gerrymeister says: Jan 1, 2012 4:38 PM

    Gronkowski Baby! Pats all Day!

  8. nekelund says: Jan 1, 2012 4:44 PM

    Or maybe these are coaches who realize how big it would be for their players to break the old record and set a new one. I’d rather the other team think I was being unsportmanlike and have my player knowing that I believed in him and gave him a chance to set a new NFL record than have the player resent me for not giving him a chance, especially during playoff time.

  9. NakedCowboy! says: Jan 1, 2012 4:44 PM

    i dont see anything bad in helping a star player getting a record… gronk has had a season like no other TE ever… record richly deserved…

    - a proud fantasy owner!

  10. thefiesty1 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:44 PM

    Too bad the Saints game didn’t go into overtime so Graham could of had more chances to one up the Pats.

  11. grogansheroes says: Jan 1, 2012 4:44 PM

    “Graham first set the record. Then, Gronkowski passed him, after Graham and other New Orleans offensive starters had been removed from the route over the Panthers.”

    Is that a rout or a route?

  12. profootballwalk says: Jan 1, 2012 4:45 PM

    Eff your sportsmanship. This is a man’s business. If you can’t take the heat, do a cooking show. It’s not my job to hide your failures – it’s my job to expose them. Save sportsmanship for kiddie soccer.

  13. tommyf15 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:45 PM

    I’m guessing Kellen Winslow Sr had the record coming into today. Does anyone know for sure?

  14. richm2256 says: Jan 1, 2012 4:46 PM

    cubsisles72 says:
    Pats going to the Super Bowl again, probably vs the Saints.

    ———————————————————
    One step at a time, Grasshopper.

    They’ve got a bye, to rest, heal, and game plan. One game at a time, please.

  15. ttommytom says: Jan 1, 2012 4:56 PM

    It’s called ‘Posterity’. We are talking about Winslow near 30 years later.

    You can throw guys a bone when it is quite obvious they are team players as Graham and Gronkowski are.

  16. mdd913 says: Jan 1, 2012 5:04 PM

    The difference is one can block and the other can’t

    ——————————————————————

    So sick of this misconception. Graham is a fine blocker. Today alone he made at least 4 or 5 great blocks to spring the running back for big gains.

    Both guys are tremendous players and if either has a weakness, I’m not seeing it.

  17. theghostofwillisreed says: Jan 1, 2012 5:09 PM

    when jobs are on the line and production means dollars, sportsmanship takes a back seat and nice guys get sent packing.

    right, norv?

  18. redsoxfan914 says: Jan 1, 2012 5:22 PM

    Meant to finish like this……a huge congratulations to Tom Brady for beating Marinos 30 yr old record and a bigger one to Drew Brees for now being the QB with the most passing yds in a season. Great seasons guys!!!!

  19. tubad4ya says: Jan 1, 2012 5:27 PM

    I see nothing wrong with allowing these TEs to duke it out for an enviable record. Both have earned the right to play 60 minutes of football on any given game day. If the opponent has a problem with that, they have the right to stop them. If they can’t stop them, it isn’t about sportsmanship, it’s just about being beaten, fair and square.

  20. 6ball says: Jan 1, 2012 5:41 PM

    .

    The receiving yardage title, added to his single season record for TD’s by a tight end gives Gronkowski arguably the best season ever by a TE. Belichick is very conscious of NFL history and records, and tries to give players the opportunity to achieve them when possible .

    Remember Doug Flutie’s drop kick extra point? Or Vinnie Testaverde’s final TD pass to Troy Brown to set the record for oldest pair to combine for a TD.

    Players appreciate it.
    .

  21. hppykmper says: Jan 1, 2012 5:49 PM

    Brees and Brady were battling it out for most yardarge just like Graham and Gronk (the Beast of the East) were. I agree with ‘tubad4ya’ and ‘redsoxfan’; what an awesome season for the both of them. Good luck in the playoffs. I’d like to see it come down to the two best QB’s and the two best TE’s.

  22. waxedagain says: Jan 1, 2012 6:04 PM

    “Pats going to the Super Bowl again, probably vs the Saints.”

    Have you forgotten the Pats one-and-done curse due to running up scores and stats – not to mention their inept defense?

  23. pastabelly says: Jan 1, 2012 6:16 PM

    Gronk had a better year all around even if he hadn’t set the record. He set the record for TD reception for a tight end and is a great run blocker and pass blocker as well.

  24. bagadeez04 says: Jan 1, 2012 7:44 PM

    Packer fan here. Nothing but respect for the Pats…they are a team/franchise that just does things the right way.

    Those TE’s are unreal in NE.

  25. domehead says: Jan 1, 2012 8:19 PM

    Hey, I love Sean Payton. And if you want to get some real insight to what a head coach is thinking, read his book…Just don’t believe everything he says.

  26. patsfiend says: Jan 1, 2012 11:12 PM

    They both look awesome. That TD up the seam right over two guys heads that Graham caught today looked EXACTLY like about 6 of the TD’s Gronk has this year. If NO and NE get to play each other in the SB, I saw that BB should COVER Graham with Gronkowski, and you know that old BB has the BB’s to do it, too.

    (But the Pats will still give up 40+ points.)

  27. 1historian says: Jan 2, 2012 6:32 AM

    II/V/MMXII – SBXLVI – (NE)P v. (GB) P

    (NE) P – XXXV – (GB) – P XXXI

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