Aside from Peyton Manning’s speculated future whereabouts and health, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s high left ankle sprain was the Super Bowl’s biggest story during the week leading up to Sunday’s game.
And the injury rendered Gronkowski a non-factor as New England fell to New York 21-17.
Struggling to create separation in the passing game and on the field for only one snap on New England’s final drive, Gronkowski was targeted by Tom Brady just three times in four quarters. One of the throws was intercepted by Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn. Gronkowski secured two passes for 26 yards, but there was a reason Brady threw to him so infrequently. Gronk wasn’t healthy.
The Patriots got a big contribution from fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, who caught a team-high eight passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. But New England’s offense clearly missed its most dynamic, physically dominant playmaker.
Gronkowski did have a chance to come down with Brady’s Hail Mary attempt at the end of regulation after the ball popped into the air, bouncing off a defender. He just couldn’t dive or reach far enough.
And so in a disappointing fashion did Gronkowski’s historical season end. Gronkowski set NFL records for touchdowns (17) and receiving yards (1,327) at his position, establishing himself as the best all-around tight end in football.