As tight end Rob Gronkowski prepared for his last game with the New England Patriots – a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII – he was asked about his career’s favorite catches.

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He paused briefly before sharing his thoughts on what he valued most about the reception.

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“I like one-armed ones. I remember all the one-handed games – they are always remembered,” he said.

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“It’s hard to do one-handed. You always practice two [hands] and you don’t want to do one-handed. But you only do them when it’s really necessary, and you can only reach the ball. You remember them because they are rare.”

That’s why Gronkowski cited a Week 16 touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills in 2017 and a 10-yard tackle against the Denver Broncos in the post-2011 divisional playoffs as two of his most memorable moments.

So, when compiling a list of Gronkowski’s best holds, the degree of difficulty is naturally the main consideration.

Clutch latches also play a big role.

Gronkowski’s 29-yard jump catch in Super Bowl LIII – with Rams linebacker Corey Littleton on his back hip and quarterback Tom Brady delivering the perfect ball – was the Patriots’ only touchdown of the game.

Then, in the Buccaneers’ 31–9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, Gronkowski threw two touchdown receptions (8 and 17 yards), though they didn’t fall into the category of other amazing receptions compared to his career.

Brady, when he was on the Patriots with Gronkowski, often noted that the future Hall of Famer “appears at the most important moments.” That’s why Brady named Gronkowski’s Super Bowl XLIX performance as one of his favorites.

“In 2014, he catches a touchdown on [Seahawks linebacker] K.J. Wright. Then we beat him at the crossroads under pressure, but only Gronk makes him play like that with his length and speed. Then I threw him another one, let’s call it a deep stop route, back on K.J. Wright,” Brady recalled.

“I have given him a lot over the years. He was so reliable, consistent.”

Then there’s what Gronkowski does after the catch, which also deserves to be considered among his finest work, where defenders often bounce him or cling to him as he charges forward with force.

The 44-yarder who defeated the Carolina Panthers 46-23 on November 15, 2020 fits in well in this category – Gronkowski flexes to make the initial tackle close to the window, then Jeremy Chinn bounces off him during the race. for an additional 16 yards after the catch.

It was a great play, but is it in Gronkowski’s top 10 of all time?

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL for the second time. This story has been updated from the original posted on January 30, 2019.

1. November 2, 2014 – Patriots 43, Broncos 21: A one-handed jump between several Broncos defensemen in a home win. This game defied physics because Gronkowski’s momentum was in the opposite direction from where he caught the ball. A 20-yard tackle hit the goal line with 14 minutes and 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Gronkowski narrowly lost before crossing the end zone. It was so close that Patriots coach Bill Belichick disputed the decision. On the sideline, microphones picked up Brady walking up to Gronkowski and saying, “How the hell did you catch that?”

2. January 14, 2012 – Patriots 45, Broncos 10: One of Gronkowski’s favourites, he lay down in the back left corner of the end zone and first touched the ball with only his right hand before putting his left hand in to secure it as it crashed to the ground for a 10-yard count, giving the Patriots a lead of 14 :0 on the way to a decisive victory.

3. November 16, 2014 – Patriots 42, Colts 20: The unusual combination of power and speed that makes Gronkowski so rare determined his 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Colts. He spun away from the original would-be invader, then picked up speed and raced past and over several defenders for a final touchdown in a 22-point victory.

4. December 24, 2017 – Patriots 37, bills 16: It was one of Gronkowski’s favorite moments, a 17-yard one-handed touchdown against the Bills, in which he extended his right arm as Maika Hyde covered him as they ran to the left pylon. The ball was placed perfectly and few other than Gronkowski could catch it.

5. February 3, 2019 – Patriots 13, Rams 3: A 29-yard throw over the left seam that provided the only touchdown of the game was made all the more impressive considering Gronkowski was playing through intense pain, which he later mentioned when announcing his initial retirement.

6. August 26, 2010 – Rams 36, Patriots 35: In his rookie season and preseason, Gronkowski caught a pass around the 5-yard line and pulled a Rams defenseman into the end zone with a one-foot bounce. In many ways, it was a preview of what was to come in the course of his career. Reflecting on this, Gronkowski did not rate it as highly because he focused more on the actual catch, saying, “I remember that. It was a good game, but it was just a catch.”

7. November 18, 2013 – Panthers 24, Patriots 20: Gronkowski got ahead of the press coverage of the Panthers and then pulled three defensemen into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown in a classic Monday Night Football game. Only pure will.

8. November 21, 2011 – Patriots 34, Chiefs 3: A 19-yard touchdown against the Chiefs in which he finished with a half-flip that landed him on his back in the end zone. He simply would not be denied.

9. December 11, 2011 – Patriots 34, Commanders 27: A memorable performance that highlighted his athleticism kept Gronkowski on his feet along the touchline despite the presence of several Commander defenders, who he brushed off with a 50-yard lead.

10. October 4, 2020 – Buccaneers 38, Chargers 31: Catch for 29 yards with linebacker Keasir White, who was essentially a 50-50 ball, and Gronkowski still lost. It was a classic example of how Gronkowski was often exposed, even when heavily covered, a staple of his career.

11. January 24, 2016 – Broncos 20, Patriots 18: Two plays that fall into the “clutch” category occurred in the AFC Championship game in Denver when Gronkowski pulled a 40-yard rainbow from Brady over the right seam on a spirited final touchdown that culminated in him splitting a double cover to return . for a 4 yard count to cut the gap to 20-18.

12. February 1, 2015 – Patriots 28, Seahawks 24: One of Brady’s favorites as Gronkowski moved to the right touchline over Wright in the Super Bowl and raised his big hands in the end zone to score a 22-yard touchdown.

13. December 26, 2020 – Buccaneers 47, Lions 7: A 33-yard touchdown with the safety of Tracy Walker III, jogging down the right sideline with Gronkowski…only to have Gronkowski reach out his hands at the last moment to snatch him out of the air, “Inspector Gadget” style. Walker could only clap his hands in disappointment.

14. November 15, 2020 – Buccaneers 46, Panthers 23: He was covered tightly by Chinn, one of the best players in the 2020 draft class, and not only made a controversial catch, but also forced Chinn to bounce him, which allowed him to run an additional 16 yards for a 44-yard lead.

15. October 26, 2014 – Patriots 51, Bears 23: His 46-yard touchdown against the Bears showed off his powerful hard arm as he blew up the defense and then outpaced everyone else in the end zone.

16. October 18, 2020 – Buccaneers 38, Packers 10: Gronkowski’s shoulder-back landing on Brady’s high-arc ball looked routine, but he still had to adjust and keep his feet within the field along the left touchline. Reflection of the ballerina Gronkowski’s feet.

Summing up the work of Gronkowski, Brady was not stingy with praise.

“He is very proud of what he does and takes it very seriously. We ask him to do a lot of things,” Brady said. “I think it’s impressive when you weigh 270 pounds, play almost every game, win every match in a running game against 300-pound defensemen, 240-pound defensemen. We ask him to pass the block. Then we ask him to run the routes and win against linebackers, win against safety, sometimes win corners. He is a physical freak.

“For him to succeed the way he is, I think he and Tony Gonzalez are the two greatest tight ends that have ever played the game.”