Because he was dragged down at the 2-yard line before he could score late in Sunday's game, Rob Gronkowski had a pretty quiet evening for the Patriots in New England's 31-24 loss to Seattle.
The tight end finished with just 56 receiving yards, but he was also involved in two pretty huge plays. The final one for New England, a contested catch attempt with Kam Chancellor that didn't draw a flag, and a shot to the chest from Seahawks safety Earl Thomas that kept him on the sideline for five plays.
Gronk said after the game it was one of the "hardest" hits he has ever taken and that Thomas is "like a missle."
"Yeah, that was a big hit for sure; probably one of the hardest I've got hit in my career for sure. [It was] by a good player; a good fast player who's like a missile," Gronkowski said. "It was a good, clean hit; nothing against it. I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that's all. If you've ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it's a little tough to breath, but once it comes back, you're good."
It takes a whole heck of a lot of speed and power to shock a guy as big as Gronk. But Thomas, arguably the best safety in football, delivered it all in a compact, perfectly clean hit.
Earl Thomas with the BOOM on Gronk. pic.twitter.com/ySkzHW9aeM— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) November 14, 2016
Asked in a follow-up whether he credited Thomas for not going for his knees or head, Gronk simply said "it's football" and acknowledged sometimes you're going to get "laid out."
"Yeah, it was a good, clean hit. I have no problem with it. He hit me fair and square," Gronkowski said. "It's football. You're going to get laid out eventually."
One of the biggest problems facing football's growth and sustainability is a coaching issue, whereby multiple layers of coaches have allowed or encouraged players to go head hunting.
Thomas' hit on Gronk -- and this is something that the Seahawks do in general -- was a perfectly example of heads up football and being in control of your body, delivering a soul-crushing blow on a massive opponent while staying perfectly within the rules.
Gronk got hit so hard that he was taken off the field and evaluated for a concussion, despite the fact that Thomas never even came close to hitting his head.
This is an A+ decleating from Thomas in terms of power and technique. He deserves even more credit than he's getting for it.