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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gronk want ball

Tight+end+Rob+Gronkowski+%2887%29+of+the+New+England+Patriots+speaks+to+reporters+during+the+AFC+Champions%26apos%3B+Media+Day+session+at+Lucas+Oil+Stadium+for+Super+Bowl+XLVI+on+Tuesday%2C+January+31%2C+2012%2C+in+Indianapolis%2C+Indiana.+%28Sam+Riche%2FMCT%29
SAM RICHE
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) of the New England Patriots speaks to reporters during the AFC Champions' Media Day session at Lucas Oil Stadium for Super Bowl XLVI on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Sam Riche/MCT)

In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots by a score of 21-17 in what was one of the more exciting, heart-wrenching Super Bowls in recent years.

Eli Manning led the Giants on what would end up being a game-winning scoring drive with 3:46 remaining. The drive, which was highlighted by an amazing catch from Mario Manningham at the sideline, was capped off by a rushing touchdown from Ahmad Bradshaw with 57 seconds left in the game.

After that drive everyone knew Tom Brady wasn’t quite finished. He has led the Patriots on numerous game-winning drives before — two in Super Bowls — and Bill Belichick knows how to coach in high-pressure situations.

Thanks to a few unfortunate dropped balls from New England receivers, Brady was only able to bring the ball to his own 49-yard line with five seconds on the clock. The Patriots were going to have to throw a Hail Mary. In other words, New England needed a miracle.

As soon as the game reached this high-pressure point, I could only think of one, simple phrase.

Gronk want ball.

The Gronk, if you didn’t already know, is New England Patriot All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, a former Arizona Wildcat. This season, he caught 17 touchdown passes (20 if you include playoffs), setting a record for tight ends. In two years, he has 27 touchdown catches. Gronkowski has proven, with his ability to make plays where there otherwise are none, to be a miracle worker.

Clearly hobbled by his ankle, which he hurt against Baltimore in the AFC Championship game, Gronkowski only had one catch for 20 yards entering that final drive as Bill Belichick used him more as a decoy than the straight weapon he has been all year long. If he had been 100% healthy, its entirely possible the Patriots never would have been in that last second situation.

On that final play, Brady hiked the ball from shotgun formation. Under pressure, he threw the ball more than 50-yards down the field to the center of the end zone. The ball reached a sea of Giants defenders, a few of which got their hands on the ball and tipped it away. For a split second, it appeared Gronkowski had a fighting chance to catch the deflection, which could have been one of the greatest game-winning touchdown grabs in the history of the National Football League. Despite his best, diving, effort, he was a few inches too far away, and the game ended.

Looking back at this Super Bowl, people will probably remember it as the moment where Eli Manning officially cemented himself as an elite NFL quarterback, and not just the “other Manning.”

However, if Gronkowski had made that catch, people would have looked back and remembered this as the moment where a former Arizona Wildcat, as hard as that may be to believe, made the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl.

In the end, surprisingly, Gronkowski is human. And while his meteoric rise to the top of the NFL tight end ladder was halted temporarily, Gronk will be back.

Zack Rosenblatt is the assistant sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatSports

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