Rob Gronkowski made a tipped ball stick in his gloves as he hauled in his 93rd career touchdown reception from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady Monday in the Meadowlands.
Gronkowski coined a description for his catches with Brady as being “maple syrup” just a week before in the team’s Oct. 28 press conference, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. He made the analogy stick against the New York Giants Monday when he snagged the loose ball that grazed defensive players’ fingers. It put the Bucs ahead for the first time in a 25-23 victory.
He originally meant the maple syrup analogy in the context of it drizzling as in making a quick play, which he did against the Giants.
“It’s like a saying my mom used to say: ‘It must be maple syrup because butter don’t drizzle like that,'” Gronkowski said in the press conference, Laine wrote.
“You don’t got much time to react and syrup drizzles … you’ve gotta make that play,” Gronkowski added, according to Laine. “And a stick of butter — it’s a block, you’ve gotta put it in the microwave, melt it — that just takes too long. You’ve gotta make that play right away, baby, and that’s why I’m like the maple syrup. That’s why she used to always say that, ’cause I’m quick with it. I just drizzle all over the place!”
Gronk’s drizzling ended a 2 1/2-quarter TD drought for the Buccaneers after mustering three field goals by kicker Ryan Succop. The NFL’s second-highest scoring offense went more than half without a TD for the first time in almost a month since an Oct. 8 loss in Chicago.
“We obviously didn’t play the way we’re capable of, but it was good to get a win,” Brady said in the postgame press conference according to Boston.com.
Brady found the end zone again in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard TD to wide receiver Mike Evans for a 22-17 lead. The Buccaneers never trailed again.
With a fourth Succop field goal in the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers made it back-to-back games scoring 10 or more fourth-quarter points. They outscored the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7 and the Giants by a combined 31-9 in fourth quarters.
The TD Chase
Brady and Gronk separated themselves from San Francisco 49ers greats Steve Young and Jerry Rice in the all-time TD list for QB-WR combos with their 93rd connection Monday, per NBC Sports’ Mike Florio.
Indianapolis Colts greats Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison own the top spot with 114 TD connections. The duo played 11 seasons together before Harrison’s retirement after the 2008 season. Manning said in 2016 that he doesn’t think the record will be broken, according to NBC Sports’ Michael David Smith.
“I remember thinking, ‘The NFL is easy. You just throw a short pass and Marvin Harrison will run for touchdowns.’ Which is pretty much what he did for the entire time we played together,” Manning said in a 2016 interview. “I think many records will be broken — most of my records will be broken — I don’t believe that record that me and Marvin have of throwing the most touchdowns together will ever be broken.”
Brady and Gronkowski played 10 seasons in New England before Gronk’s retirement in 2019. Gronk endured multiple injuries during that span and missed half of three different seasons.
Brady vs. Brees
Brady also tied and passed Saints quarterback Drew Brees for the most TD passes in NFL history, 561 TDs, with two TD throws against the Giants, per NBC Sports’ Charean Williams.
It will belong to Brady until at least Sunday when Brees can challenge for it again versus the Bucs. That’s the ebb and flow of the all-time TD passer chase between the two future Hall-of-Famers, changing hands as often as they connect with their receivers in the end zone.
Brady and Brees’ record race started last year when Brees first broke Manning’s all-time passing TD record of 539 in 2019, per NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson. The NOLA.com writer noted that Brees has played one less game than Brady this season.
This race may last almost all the way to Canton for the two QB greats.