Rob Gronkowski joined some elite company with his second touchdown in the Patriots' 34-3 win over the Chiefs on Monday night, passing two Hall of Famers (and another eventual Hall of Famer) as the fastest tight end to score 20 career touchdowns.
Gronkowski reached the milestone in just 26 career games, passing Mike Ditka, who did it in his first 31 games with the Chicago Bears, as well as former and current San Diego Chargers greats Kellen Winslow Sr. (35) and Antonio Gates (37). Sure, it's an arbitrary milestone -- if you want to get technical, Gronkowski entered the game as the fastest to score 18 touchdowns -- but people love to celebrate round numbers, so hat's off to him.
There was nothing arbitrary about his first score. Known primarily for his work in the red zone, Gronkowski went 52 yards in the first quarter to give the Patriots their first score of the game, crossing the goal-line after flashing some deft footwork to avoid a tackle and stay inbounds about 10 yards out.
While his first score required more grace than brawn, his second was pure violence. He was hit in midair after diving for the end zone, turning him completely upside down. He landed awkwardly on his neck and was clearly dazed after trying to stand up, stumbling to his knees before regaining his balance.
After the game, he told reporters that he passed a sideline concussion test. From the Boston Herald:
"It feels great. I think it feels better now," Gronkowski said, with a laugh. "(The trainers) were asking if I was fine, and I said I was fine. I just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit. They're always cracking jokes. It was cool. They asked me math problems, and then I started throwing out my own math problems. It was pretty cool."
He didn't miss an offensive series, but he also didn't catch a pass the rest of the way, finishing the game with four catches for 96 yards. It's good to see the Patriots took the precaution to examine him on the sidelines, and it won't be surprising if they continue to monitor him the rest of the week. Just don't expect Gronkowski to cooperate.
"I remember the moment and everything. If I didn't I still wouldn't even say I didn't. I'm trying to play this week," he said with a laugh, as transcribed by Larry Brown Sports.