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INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) – For the last two weeks, most of the talk surrounding the New England Patriots was about the left ankle of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
But the 22-year old is feeling more than just physical pain after New England’s 21-17 Super Bowl XLVI loss to the New York Giants.
“It definitely hurts. Just losing the game hurts so much; how we dedicated ourselves, how much our teammates all went through, just grinding every single day and every single off day all together,” he said.
It was evident the blossoming super star was not his normal self, lacking the ability to make his cuts and get open.
The Giants made sure to get physical with Gronkowski, testing his ankle. He was held to just two catches for 26 yards, 20 of which came on one reception in the second quarter.
That reception seemed to spark the offense, as they marched down the field and put seven points on the board to take a 10-9 lead before the half.
“He still did a great job even though he had that hurt ankle. He played through it and he still had a good game for us,” said fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, who reaped the benefits of Gronkowski’s being targeted only three times, hauling in a team-leading eight receptions.
Tom Brady did not go back to Gronkowski after that 20-yard reception until the fourth quarter, when he was intercepted by Chase Blackburn on a deep pass.
“You hate to throw those. I wish I would have gotten a little more on it,” Brady said of the interception. “(I always want to give Rob) a chance to make the play. I just came up a little bit short.”
Although he looked hampered by the injury and did not make much of an impact, the tight end said he was A-OK when it came time to take the field.
“I was good. I was 100-percent out there doing everything they asked me to do.”
According to WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche, Gronkowski had a ‘setback’ in practice last Thursday and several teammates were amazed that he was able to play at all.
Gronkowski was not expected to have much of a hand in the offensive attack, other than blocking and serving as a decoy. And the reason for having just the two receptions was pretty simple: the Giants physical defense.
“Just how they defended; they’ve got a good defense. They played well, and Tom hits open men,” he said. “Unfortunately, he was just hitting the guys that were open and that’s how it goes.”
“They’re a good team; hats off to them.”