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Gronkowski makes 2 key caches in what could be his last game

Mon Feb 4 3:05am ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Sony Michel

New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) stretches to catch a pass as Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton (58) and John Johnson III (43) defend, during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) runs from Los Angeles Rams' Samson Ebukam (50) after catching a pass during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams' Samson Ebukam (50) after catching a pass during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) catches a pass in front of Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton (58) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates with teammates after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) catches a pass in front of Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton (58) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


New England Patriots' Kyle Van Noy, left, and Rob Gronkowski, right, celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates with teammates after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (87) catches a pass in front of Los Angeles Rams' Marcus Peters (22) and Cory Littleton (58) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


ATLANTA (AP) Rob Gronkowski rumbled down the field, got past two defenders and hauled in the football to set up New England's go-ahead touchdown.

If this was the farewell performance for the Patriots tight end, he went out in playmaking style.

Was it his biggest catch ever?

''You tell me,'' Gronkowski said after New England's 13-3 Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night. ''It's up there. I like making big catches like that.''

That, of course, is what he has done his entire nine-year NFL career.

The 29-year-old Gronkowski is a three-time Super Bowl champion who has been one of the most dominant players at his position.

Ever.

But, whether the end is near - or, next - has been a question all season as back, knee, ankle and arm ailments have sapped him of his ability to stay on the field. And, when he did play this season, he looked mostly like a shell of his All-Pro self.

''Tonight, it's about celebrating with my teammates and that decision will be made a week or two down the future,'' Gronkowski said. ''Because tonight, that's what it's about, is celebrating with my teammates. That's what I'm worried about tonight.''

Gronkowski was seen limping out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the game after injuring a quadriceps muscle on a hit in the third quarter.

''Yeah, my quad, it hurts a lot,'' he said. ''I can barely walk right now.''

He was plenty mobile when it mattered most, though. His two biggest catches came after the painful hit.

Gronkowski finished with six catches for 87 yards, including two receptions on New England's only touchdown drive. With the score tied at 3, Tom Brady found his tight end for an 18-yard gain on first down . Two plays later, the Patriots had second-and-3 from the Rams 31 when Brady saw Gronkowski get free down the left sideline.

He launched the ball and Gronkowski reached out to catch the ball and put New England at the 2.

''When it comes to crunch time,'' Gronkowski said, ''I always find a way.''

For a few moments, it was just like old times.

Brady to Gronk.

''Incredible catch,'' Brady said. ''He's an awesome teammate, friend, and I'm just so proud of everything that he's done for our team. He just had an incredible game.''

Added center David Andrews: ''It was a hell of a catch. The best players show up at the best time.''

On the next play, Sony Michel ran it up the middle for a touchdown that put the Patriots ahead for good.

''Tom threw it to me and I had to make a play,'' Gronkowski said. ''I just come through where it needs to be that time. He knows to trust in me and throw that ball and I'm going to go grab it.''

But, for how much longer?

Gronkowski has danced around the question of retirement whenever the question has come up, but he's due $9 million in base salary next season - a hefty amount for an aging player whose health will always be a concern.

Even if he wants to keep playing, the Patriots could very well say goodbye to one of their best and most popular players in the next few months.

And, if that's the case, Gronkowski and the Patriots went out a winner. As they have so often done.

''I'll tell you this: It was the most satisfying year I've ever been a part of,'' Gronkowski said. ''How we came together, the obstacles we had to overcome, the grind from the beginning of training camp to now, it's just surreal.''

Player Notes
T Y Hilton Sep 23 8:33am ET

Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.

Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.

From TheHuddle

Dante Pettis Sep 23 3:33am ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.

From TheHuddle

Matt Breida Sep 23 3:13am ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.

From TheHuddle

T.J. Watt Sep 23 3:13am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt had an interception and a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Watt added two tackles, two passes defensed and two quarterback hits.

From TheHuddle

Will Dissly Sep 23 3:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.

From RotoBaller

James Washington Sep 23 2:53am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington accounted for 14 yards on two receptions in the team's Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Fantasy Spin: With Donte Moncrief inactive there was hope that Washington would step up, but Pittsburgh's passing game flailed around outside of a pair of long TD connections. While there's still some long-term upside with Washington, he's only worth stashing in larger leagues.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Sep 23 2:53am ET

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle caught six of his eight targets for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fantasy Spin: Kittle opened the season with consecutive 54-yard outings. It's a bit of an anomaly that a big-play threat like Kittle hasn't enjoyed a huge day or scored a touchdown yet, but his time is coming; he's had a bit of bad luck this season after having a lot of good fortune in 2018. The 49ers will go on a bye in Week 4, but he'll remain an elite TE1 option when he returns to action in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.

From TheHuddle

JuJu Smith-Schuster Sep 23 2:53am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: Seventy-six of Smith-Schuster's 81 receiving yards came on a long touchdown, salvaging an otherwise unimpressive first game post-Big Ben. Week 4 presents a tasty matchup with the Bengals, which means Smith-Schuster should remain in your starting lineup.

From TheHuddle

D.K. Metcalf Sep 23 2:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf continued his impressive run on Sunday as he snagged a 54-yard bomb just before halftime. Metcalf was a little quieter the rest of the day, partially due to rain and constant slipping on the field, but he's now caught a pass of 25+ yards in all three games of his young career. Metcalf was targeted six times in the game, and while he only caught two of the passes, he at least made those ones count. The coaching staff seems to love having Metcalf across from Tyler Lockett, so it looks like he's in for a pretty solid year as the team's No. 2 receiver.

From RotoBaller

David Moore Sep 23 2:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore finally got into the action for the first time on Sunday, but he only caught one pass on the afternoon. As expected, Moore's catch was a nifty one that featured him coming back and around a defender to be able to reach the wet, slippery ball, but the lack of chances continues to limit his potential. Moore was initially pegged as the team's likely No. 2 receiver, but it looks like everyone's infatuated with D.K. Metcalf so far, so Moore's looking more like he'll be battling for table scraps. His incredible acrobatics will allow him to make highlight reels often, but it doesn't look like he'll be hitting box scores as regularly.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Sep 23 2:43am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (knee) gained 43 yards on 13 carries against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. He added 14 yards on four receptions and also lost a fumble.

Fantasy Spin: With a young QB making his first NFL start the Steelers needed a big day from Conner. They got the opposite. He turned his 17 touches into just 57 yards and his fourth-quarter fumble set up the game-winning TD for the 49ers. They'll expect more from Conner going forward, and he should continue to get opportunities to make plays. He's a solid RB2 against the winless Bengals in Week 4.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Garoppolo Sep 23 2:43am ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo finished 23-of-32 for 277 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had three yards rushing on six carries and lost one of his two fumbles.

Fantasy Spin: While not having a clear alpha receiver probably isn't helping his cause, Garoppolo hasn't been particularly sharp in two of his three games. Of course, expectations should have been kept in check early this season anyway considering he is still working his way back from ACL surgery. Garoppolo will have plenty of things to work on heading into the team's Week 4 bye and will be a middling QB2 option at best in Week 5 versus the Cleveland Browns.

From TheHuddle

Chris Carson Sep 23 2:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson busted a big 23-yard bruiser of a run early in Sunday's game against the Saints, but after that, he was nearly silent. Carson finished with just 15 carries for 53 yards and one reception out of the backfield. Carson's lack of use was due to a combination of the score, where Seattle was getting pounded for the majority of the game, and a costly fumble that turned into a defensive touchdown in the first half. This is the third game in a row where Carson has coughed up the ball in a terrible way, and that's a bad sign for his long-term prospects in Seattle.

From RotoBaller

C.J. Prosise Sep 23 2:40am ET

Given the chance to be the team's No. 2 for the week, Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise didn't make much noise. With running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) out on Sunday, Prosise got his chance to remind everyone why Seattle has put up with his annual injuries. Instead, he tallied just five yards on four carries. He did catch five passes out of the backfield to rack up 38 yards, but most of that came on one 21-yarder. Penny's injury isn't considered serious, and he's currently expected to play in Week 4. For now, it looks like Prosise will continue to have to sit tight because he's not putting any pressure on anyone ahead of him in the depth chart.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Sep 23 2:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett had the biggest receiving day of his NFL career on Sunday as he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the team's loss to New Orleans. He also just missed a second touchdown pass on an errant throw that was a little out of his reach. Lockett came up huge for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks throughout the game, snagging balls left and right to keep the team in it when they were down big. The game doubled up Lockett's catches and targets on the season, and he's now averaging more than 90 yards receiving per game. Lockett looks like he's well on his way to topping 1,000 yards this season, and he should have a handful of touchdowns in the bank as well.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Sep 23 2:30am ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up huge numbers in Sunday's loss against the Saints. Wilson completed 32 passes on 50 attempts for 406 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times and ran in a pair of touchdowns, including one where he straight muscled through a Saints defender. The explosion of passing attempts was due to the fact that Seattle trailed by a hefty margin for the majority of the game after a series of bad breaks early on. That said, this is the second straight game where Wilson has tallied up sizable QB numbers. Perhaps Seattle is willing to let him use some of his magic moving forward.

From RotoBaller

K.J. Wright Sep 23 2:23am ET

Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright recorded 13 tackles in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints - matching his total from the first two games combined.

From TheHuddle

Travis Carrie Sep 23 2:13am ET

Cleveland Browns CB T.J. Carrie had seven tackles (six solo), two passes defensed and an interception against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.

From TheHuddle

Marshon Lattimore Sep 23 2:13am ET

New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore registered a career-high 12 tackles - including 10 solo - in Week 3 versus the Seattle Seahawks.

From TheHuddle

Travis Benjamin Sep 23 2:10am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a step on two defenders with two minutes left and the team trailing by seven points, but he couldn't hold on to the throw that hit him in both hands. Quarterback Philip Rivers had laid it out in the perfect spot where only Benjamin could reach it, but it was gone in an instant as it started to slip out of his hands and a slap on the elbow from a Texans defender ensured it couldn't be snagged. Instead, Benjamin finished with just two catches for five yards, and the Chargers fell to 1-2 on the season.

From RotoBaller