Patriots royal duo of Brady and Gronk strike again

There’s nothing like the royalty that exists in Foxborough.

The Drama Kings were, for the most part, on top of their respective games on Sunday as the New England Patriots hung on against a team that can’t seem to ever get it right against them, the Houston Texans.

Yes, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, despite all the fears the last seven months, were on the field for the Patriots and most responsible for their 27-20 season-opening win. Everyone is hoping for many more games in which Brady throws for three TDs and Gronkowski has seven receptions for 123 yards and a TD.

Evidently Gronkowski does too. The morning began with an NFL Network report that basically said the Patriots were shopping Gronk around in the off-season and he (more likely his agent,Drew Rosenhnaus) put a stop to it by saying the Patriots were the only team he’d ever play for.

Maybe that’s what he acted so foolhardy during the off-season until he got called to coach Bill Belichick’s office in April. He knew that he wasn’t going anywhere.

He was asked on the field about it after the game, and said it caught him off-guard.

“Where is this coming from again?” Gronkowski said he was wondering. “I’m just glad to be here. I’m glad to be here, I’m glad to be part of this team, I’m glad to be part of this organization.

“All that talk, all that stuff, I would love to put it in the past. Whatever it is, whatever reports keep coming out because I’m here and I want to stay here and I’m here to keep playing ball with the Patriots and just enjoying my time here. … I’m here, I’m here to stay.”

Gronkowski and Brady, it obviously goes without saying, are the two most indispensable Patriots, even though all they got for their bad behavior in the spring were incentives added to their contracts. They’ve certainly proved they’re worth more over the years. When they hooked up on the game’s first TD, it was the 76th time they’ve done that, fifth most all time for any quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL and second most all-time for a QB-tight end.

“We’ve been playing together a long time,” Brady said. “I remember a couple years ago, we thre like in April one year, and I mean we threw like 40 passes. We hit them all. So I know his body language. I know his ability to run and what routes.

“He can do it. He can do really all the routes. It’s just a matter of giving him a chance, and it came with a big touchdown today.”

“A lot of practice, no doubt,” Gronkowsi said of why the connection with Brady is so good. “A lot of practice. A lot of consistency, out on the practice field. Doing it in the off-season,

doing it in camp… That’s what we do.”

Except they didn’t do it in April and May, creating drama and that got everyone nervous. You’re all not nervous now, right?

Save for being stripped of the ball for a fumble in the second half, Gronkowski did what he wanted out there as usual, even while getting grabbed, hit, tugged and mugged.

He also caught a break from slow replay officials in New York and a fast Brady with his 31-yard seam reception the helped set up Phillip Dorsett’s first Patriot TD reception. The Patriots ran a play off before a verdict could be issued, the refs admitted in a pool report (no coach’s challenge because it was in the last two minutes of a half).

“I was running up the seam, I had two guys on me, I saw the ball up in the air and I literally thought first thing, ‘What is Tom thinking?’ Gronkowski said. “… I just went up for it and made the catch. I did make the catch …”

No doubt. Gronkowski was the happy tight end; the other QB, Deshaun Watson, couldn’t seem to connect with his, Londonderry’s Ryan Griffin, targeted five times with zero catches. Both had great games in a close loss here at Gillette early last season.

It’s understandable. Both players were gone soon after for the season with injuries. Gronkowski is brittle, no question, bubble wrapped most of every preseason. Then the Patriots unleash him on the league and it’s trouble for everyone. Brady and Gronk take on the NFL, film at 11.

“That’s two great players,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We see that every day in training camp and in practice. … Rob’s hard to cover and Tom can put the ball where only Rob can get it and Rob can get a lot of those.

“I’m glad we have them. They’re both great players.”

Morning drama, late afternoon delight. Just another eventful Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,, or @Telegraph_TomK.