FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady’s eyes widened when he was told that he didn’t even throw a pass in the direction of Rob Gronkowski on Sunday — the first time in the All-Pro tight end’s career that he wasn’t targeted for an entire game.
“Really?” the Patriots quarterback said. “I didn’t know that. I didn’t notice.”
Gronkowski was twice held without a catch last season, but his season-low for 2017 was two catches in the opener against Kansas City. He finished the regular season with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.
Afterward, he said he wasn’t surprised by the game plan.
And he said he wasn’t bothered by it, either.
“It was a coaching decision,” Gronkowski said. “A coaching decision is a coaching decision.”
Gronkowski was due to receive a $2 million bonus if he caught 80 passes, had 1,200 receiving yards or played in 90 per cent of the team’s snaps (which he also fell short of), according to ESPN. He will also earn the bonus if he is selected to The Associated Press All-Pro team.
With the 26-6 victory over the New York Jets, the Patriots (13-3) clinched the top seed in the AFC. They will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs and host the lowest remaining season the weekend of Jan. 13-14
“Everything’s good,” he said. “We just won the AFC. We’re champions. We got the No. 1 seed. That was a big one right there.”
Jets (5-11) coach Todd Bowles said there was no specific plan to keep the ball away from Gronkowski. In all, Brady completed 18 of 37 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
“It just worked out that way,” he said. “They have a lot of weapons. You pick your poison who you’re going to let (them) throw the ball to.”