Ends that are tightHe was about to play his last game with the A 13-3 win over the Super Bowl LIII — He was asked about his favorite catch of his career.
He took a moment to reflect on the most important things about a reception.
“I like the one-handers. I remember all the one-handers — those are always memorable,” he said.
“It’s tough to make one-handers. You’re always practicing two [hands] and you don’t want to make one-handers. But you only make them when it’s really necessary and you can only reach the ball. You remember those because it’s rare.”
That’s why Gronkowski highlighted a Week 16 touchdown catch against theIn the 2017 season, a 10-yard grab was made against the In the divisional round playoffs, following his 2011 season as two of the most memorable.
So when putting together a list of Gronkowski’s greatest grabs, degree of difficulty is naturally a top consideration.
Also, clutch catches play a large part in it.
Gronkowski’s 29-yard diving reception in Super Bowl LIII — with Rams linebackerHis back hip and quarterback delivering a perfect ball — set up the Patriots’ only touchdown of the game.
Then, in the Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over thein Super Bowl LV, Gronkowski hauled in two touchdown receptions (8 and 17 yards), although they didn’t fall into the category of other jaw-dropping catches over his career.
Brady, during his Patriots days with Gronkowski, had often noted how the future Hall of Famer “just shows up at the biggest moments.” It’s why Brady had rated Gronkowski’s work in Super Bowl XLIX among his favorite.
“In 2014, he catches the touchdown on [Seahawks linebacker]. He was then beaten on a crossing route under stress, but Gronk is the only one who can do that with his lengths and speed. Then, I threw another, a deep stop route on K.J. Wright again,” Brady had recalled.
“I’ve thrown a lot to him over the years. He’s been so dependable, consistent.”
Then there’s what Gronkowski does after the catch that also warrants consideration among his best work, with defenders often bouncing off him, or hanging on as he lunges forward with force.
44 yarder in a 46-23 victory over theNovember 15, 2020: Gronkowski twisting to make the first tight-window grab, and then having safety He bounced off him and raced an additional 16 yards after the catch.
It was a great play, but does it even rank among the top 10 of Gronkowski’s all-time best?
Editor's note:The NFL published the story for the second consecutive time Tuesday. This story has been updated from the Jan. 30, 2019 original.
1. Nov. 2, 2014 — Patriots 43, Broncos 21: In a win at home, a one-handed leaping catch by multiple Broncos defenders. This play defied physics because Gronkowski’s momentum was heading in the opposite direction from where he caught the ball. Gronkowski was just able to make a 20-yard grab at the goal line, with only 14 minutes and 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The decision was challenged by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. On the sideline, microphones picked up Brady approaching Gronkowski and saying, “How the f— did you catch that?”
2. Jan. 14, 2012 — Patriots 45, Broncos 10: One of Gronkowski’s favorites, he laid out in the back left-hand corner of the end zone and initially made contact with the ball with only his right hand before bringing his left hand in to secure it as he crashed to the ground for a 10-yard score to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead en route to a blowout win.
3. Nov. 16, 2014 — Patriots42, Colts20: Gronkowski's 46-yard catch-and run touchdown against the Colts was marked by a unique combination of force and speed. He spun away from a potential tackler and then gained speed to race past and around multiple defenders for the final touchdown, which was a 22 point win.
Rob Gronkowski makes a top five catch in 2017 with a touchdown pass from Tom Brady
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 24, 2017
4. Dec. 24, 2017 — Patriots37, Bills16: This was one of Gronkowski’s all-time favorites — a one-handed, 17-yard touchdown against the Bills in which he stretched his right hand out as safetyAs they raced towards the left pylon, the ball was all over Gronkowski. Gronkowski was the only one who could catch it.
5. Feb. 3, 2019 – Patriots 13, Rams 3: Gronkowski made a 29-yard run down the left side seam for the touchdown. It was remarkable because Gronkowski was suffering from significant pain, which he later mentioned when he announced his retirement.
6. Aug 26, 2010 — Patriots 35, Rams 36 Gronkowski, who was in his rookie season, caught a pass at the 5-yard line. He then dragged a Rams player into the end zone as he hopped onto one foot. It was in many ways a preview of the things that would come later in his career. Reflecting on it, Gronkowski didn’t rate it as highly because he was focusing more on the actual catch, saying: “I remember it. It was a good play, but it was a normal catch still.”
7. Nov. 18, 2013, Panthers 24, Patriots 20, Gronkowski won the battle against the Panthers' media coverage and then pulled three defenders into a touchdown zone for a nine-yard touchdown in a classic Monday Night Football game. Pure will.
8. Nov. 21, 2011 — Patriots, Chiefs 3, He completed a 19-yard catch-and run touchdown against Chiefs with a half-flip, which placed him on his stomach in the end zone. He couldn't be denied.
9. Dec. 11, 2011, Patriots, Commanders: Gronkowski's remarkable play highlighted his athleticism and he stayed on his feet at the sideline despite multiple Commanders defenders who he ignored for a 50-yard gain.
10. Oct. 4, 2020 — Buccaneers 38, Chargers 31: Linebacker for a catch of 29 yardsGronkowski stomped all over him, which was essentially a 50-50 game. Gronkowski still did it. This was a great example of Gronkowski's ability to be open despite being tightly covered. It was a hallmark of his career.
11. Jan. 24, 2016 — Broncos 20, Patriots 18: Two plays that fall into the “clutch situation” category came in the AFC Championship Game at Denver, with Gronkowski snatching a 40-yard rainbow from Brady down the right seam during a spirited final touchdown drive that culminated with him splitting double coverage to come back for a 4-yard score to close the gap to 20-18.
12. February 1, 2015 — Patriots 28, Seahawks 24,: One of Brady’s favorites, as Gronkowski got a step up the right sideline on Wright in the Super Bowl and reached his big hands up in the end zone to haul it in for a 22-yard touchdown.
13. Dec. 26, 2020 — Buccaneers47, Lions7: Safety: A 33-yard touchdown catchrunning stride for stride down the right sideline with Gronkowski … only to have Gronkowski outstretch his arms at the last moment to snatch it out of the air “Inspector Gadget” style. Walker could only clap in frustration.
14. Nov. 15, 2020 — Buccaneers 47, Panthers 23 Chinn was covering him tight. He made the contested catch and then Chinn bounced off him. This allowed Chinn to run an additional 16 yards for a 44-yard gain.
15. Oct. 26, 2014 — Patriots 53, Bears 23 His 46-yard touchdown against Bears was a demonstration of his stiff-arm. He blasted a Bears defensive back and then outran everyone to get to the end zone.
16. Oct. 18, 2020 — Buccaneers 38, Packers 10: Gronkowski’s back-shoulder touchdown catch on a high-arcing ball from Brady was made to look routine, but he still had to adjust his body and keep his feet in bounds along the left sideline. A reflection of Gronkowski’s ballerina-type feet.
Summing up Gronkowski’s body of work, Brady was effusive in his praise.
“He takes a lot of pride in what he does and takes it very seriously. We ask him to do a lot of things,” Brady said. “I think it’s impressive to be 270 pounds, to play basically every play, to win every matchup in the run game against 300-pound defensive ends, 240-pound defensive ends. We ask him to block. We ask him to pass block. Next, we ask him run routes. He’s a physical freak.
“For him to excel the way he has, I think him and Tony Gonzalez are the two greatest tight ends to ever play the game.”