BOSTON (CBS) – Rob Gronkowski nearly set a new NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end on Sunday.
Instead, he register the first rushing touchdown of his football career.
“It’s all good; I’ll take a rushing touchdown any day,” Gronkowski told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton during Patriots Fifth Quarter. “That was the first rush of my whole career playing football, and I got a TD on it. That’s pretty sweet.”
He is one receiving touchdown away from breaking the NFL record, set by San Francisco’s Vernon Davis, San Diego’s Antonio Gates.
The fan favorite received a standing ovation when he ran in his third touchdown of the day, which was originally announced as his 14th touchdown reception of the season. It was quickly changed to a rushing score once it was reviewed, with Tom Brady throwing a lateral pass to Gronk before he ran it in.
“I wasn’t paying attention… it was a pass, I wasn’t thinking that I was behind the line of scrimmage at the time,” Gronkowski said. “Whatever, I’ll take the rushing touchdown.”
Rob Gronkowski Postgame 1 on 1
Through his first 28 NFL games, Gronkowski has an amazing 24 touchdowns. Sunday is the seventh multi-touchdown game of his career, and fifth of the 2011 season. It is his second three-touchdown game of his short career.
“He’s a great player,” receiver Wes Welker said after the game. “He does a great job for us just like everybody out there; understanding where he needs to be and making plays in key situations. He’s been a big help for us espially in the red area with his touchdowns. He’s such a big target.”
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Gronkowski said he never would have imagined having 14 touchdowns in a season, let alone in his second year. But he says that can be attributed to the strong group of teammates on offense.
“The wide receivers are playing so well, the running backs are running the ball well, the offensive line is on fire, and Tom is throwing the ball so well. I just happen to be the open guy in the red zone; I have to give credit to all the wide receivers, bringing the ball down to the red zone, getting open every single play,” he said.
“That’s how great our receivers are. They have great talent out there and you have to cover them. If you don’t cover them, they’re going to get open,” he said. “I just happen to be the open guy then. Tom sees the open guy and he throws it so, all credit goes there. Great play calling, great coaching, great playing by the o-line. The open guy has to make the catch.”
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And make those catches he does. After five more receptions on Sunday, Gronkowski is up to 60 on the season. But that is not impressive to Gronk, who says he is just doing his job.
“Wherever the QB throws the ball, you have to catch it. That’s the responsibility of being a tight end and receiver; going out and catching a pass. If its anywhere in your proximity, you have to go catch it.”
As for the touchdown record, Gronkowski will go for it next week against the Washington Redskins.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said with a smile.