Rob Gronkowski Can’t Even Be Mad At How Hard Earl Thomas Hit Him
The Seattle Seahawks are 50% responsible for one of the worst primetime games in the NFL's history, and for that they may never be forgiven. But they did redeem themselves slightly on Sunday night when they traveled to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots for the first time since Super Bowl XLIX.
The rematch brought back all the classics: a thoroughly disgruntled Tom Brady vacillated between incredible plays and egregious mistakes. Russell Wilson looked elite again for possibly the first time all season. Pete Carroll made a horrific, indefensible coaching decision that nearly (and should have) cost him the game. The Seahawks defense was throwback-levels of relentless, as was the Patriots defensive line. And perhaps most classic of all, a lethargic Patriots secondary played with all the skill and urgency of Ace Ventura in his tutu at the mental hospital:
It wasn't a clean, masterful display of football prowess per se, but it was incredibly fun to watch; particularly for NFL fans that have been handed one garbage matchup after another all season. And one of the most memorable plays of the game was this one: an incomplete pass from Brady to Gronkowski that resulted in an absolute bell-ringing from the 5'10" Earl Thomas.
As far as anyone knew, a steam engine in full throttle couldn't clean his clock like that. At that point in the game, both Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner had taken their best shots at Gronk and all they'd managed to do was get dragged along for the ride. After the hit from Thomas, Gronkowski was sidelined for four plays while the doctors checked him out to make sure he was okay to continue playing.
It was a statement play in a game that was full of them, and for many defensive players in the league, it undoubtedly inspires hope that there is a way to battle Gronkowski without illegally targeting his knees. He's not mad about it though. Gronkowski is many things: a party animal, a bro, a horrendous Spanglish-speaker. But he's a football player above all else and he gave credit where credit was due after the game.
"That was a big hit, for sure,” Gronkowski said. “Probably one of the hardest I’ve been hit in my career, for sure. (It was) by a good player — a good, fast player who’s like a missile."
"It was a good, clean hit. Nothing against it. I just took it, and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that’s all. If you’ve ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it’s a little tough to breathe, but once it comes back, you’re good.”
He made sure to reiterate that he believed the hit to be completely within the confines of the rules.
“I have no problem with it,” he said. “He hit me fair and square. It’s football. You’re going to get laid out eventually.”
There's a reason people are now touting Seahawks vs. Patriots as the best rivalry in football. Both teams have been the cream of the crop for the last couple of years, and if last night's game was any indication, they may just meet again this year. And Gronk will definitely be keeping a better eye on tiny Earl Thomas if they do.
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