Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have a long way to go.
The quarterback-tight end duo connected on their 92nd touchdown in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Week 7 rout of the Las Vegas Raiders, 45-20, for second all-time on quarterback-receiver duos touchdown list. NBC Sports’ Mike Florio wrote it will take Brady and Gronkowski a while to catch the all-time leaders, former Indianapolis Colts greats Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
The Colts duo posted 114 touchdowns, which means Brady and Gronkowski will need to connect at another 23 times to pass them. Florio noted the record includes both the regular season and playoffs.
Brady, 43, and Gronkowski, 31, don’t have much time to catch Manning and Harrison. Both Brady and Gronkowski have short contracts with the Bucs at two years for Brady and a year for Gronkowski. The star tight end also hasn’t decided on next season according to NESN’s Marcus Kwesi O’Mard.
“I’m just taking it one season at a time,” Gronkowski said in a press conference Wednesday. “I just came off a season of not playing for a year. I’m really just focused week in and week out on our opponent.”
Both Brady and Gronkowski have picked up steam during the Buccaneers’ two-game win streak with Brady throwing for six touchdowns and Gronkowski catching two of those. Gronkowski’s role with the Bucs has also emerged from primarily a pass blocker to a pass-catcher again due to fellow tight end O.J. Howard’s season-ending injury.
Moving up the List
Brady and Gronkowski moved up the all-time list quickly this season with their first two touchdown connections. They passed former Los Angeles Chargers greats Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates, 90 touchdowns, for third all-time in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers.
When Brady found Gronkowski on a 5-yard fade for a touchdown against the Raiders, it tied the duo with San Francisco 49ers greats Steve Young and Jerry Rice, 92 touchdowns, in the record books. Florio noted that Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana surprisingly didn’t have as many touchdown connections with Rice in their 49ers days.
It will take a major uptick in production between Brady and Gronkowski to beat Manning and Harrison’s record. Gronkowski hasn’t caught more than eight touchdowns in a season since 2015 when he had 11. He had a career-high of 17 in 2011.
Brady and Gronk Legacy
NESN’s Alexandra Francisco wrote that in Brady’s 21-season career, Gronkowski has been his top go-to guy for touchdown passes. Hall-of-fame wide receiver Randy Moss caught the second-most at 39, and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman caught 36 for third according to NBC Sports Boston.
Gronkowski caught 12 of his touchdowns from Brady in playoff games, helping the Patriots win three Super Bowls in nine seasons. According to NFL.com, Gronkowski ranks second all-time behind Rice’s 22 postseason touchdown catches. Brady fared better when throwing to Gronkowski, posting a 124 passer rating, per NFL.com.
After Gronkowski burst on the scene with the Patriots in 2010, he helped Brady win three more Super Bowl rings. Gronkowski retired in 2019 but returned this season, joining Brady and the Bucs in a quest for another Super Bowl ring or more.