New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had a career day against the Cincinnati Bengals, posting 162 receiving yards on seven catches with his first touchdown of the season in the Patriots’ 35-17 victory.
And the Bengals’ defenders weren’t too happy about it (of course, it’s largely their issue that Gronkowski has been running wild, but we digress). In the fourth quarter, Gronkowski exchanged words with one of the NFL’s notorious bad boys, Vontaze Burfict, after a 29-yard gain, barking at the linebacker in the middle of the field. Gronkowski took umbrage with a low hit that Burfict delivered to Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett. Burfict responded by approaching Gronkowski and gently head-butting him as the two kept yapping at one another.
The chatter continued, with the players right in each other’s faces, and officials gathered. Bengals players circled in, with safety Shawn Williams grabbing Gronkowski between the shoulder pads and pulling him backward. The Patriots’ offensive linemen came in to help their teammate, and it diffused quickly.
Tom Brady went right back to Gronkowski on the next play, this time a pass over the middle that went for 12 yards. As he got up, Gronkowski stood over cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and started talking again, Burfict running up to him to put a finger in his face, and Gronkowski walked away from the fray, nodding his head and flipping the football to the turf, which the crowd enjoyed.
The officials did not, and Gronkowski was flagged for taunting. The penalty cost his team 15 yards but also put Gronkowski on alert: another personal foul penalty and he could be booted from the game. He had to explain himself to Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the sideline, but was put back in the game a play later.
It should be noted, players often go for Gronkowski’s knees – it’s very hard to get him down otherwise – and T.J. Ward tore his ACL that way a few years ago.
Bennett said that Burfict apologized to him postgame for the low hit. He also appreciated to have the support from Gronk.
More Bennett on Burfict: "He apologized. He said he didn’t try to do it. But it’s part of the game. Stuff happens."
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 16, 2016
Bennett on Gronk going after Burfict for him: We always have each other’s backs. Things happen in the game…Gronk’s like, ‘bro, I got you.’
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) October 16, 2016