FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said despite a crushing last-second loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, there were several positives in the game. Perhaps none more than tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski had his most productive day of the season on the stat sheet, catching eight passes for 107 yards and one touchdown. He caught every pass thrown in his direction in a performance that will quiet some of the talk that he's no longer a difference-maker.
"I'm so proud of him," Brady said in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI. "He caught the ball last week against Minnesota and took a pretty good hit and worked through that. Then had a great game [against Miami]."
Gronkowski's confidence seemed to be rising as the game progressed, though he was notably among the Patriots who missed a tackle during the Dolphins' 69-yard touchdown to end the game. After the game, he compared the adversity the Patriots were facing to what he has endured this season as he's worked through ankle and back injuries.
Things were looking up Sunday.
"I felt good out there, definitely," he said. "I'm making plays, blocking, getting some chemistry built back up. I wish we could have put up more points in the red zone [3 of 6], but as a unit we were playing well, moving the ball, and we've just got to continue that positive streak going of moving the ball on the offensive side."
Remarkably, Gronkowski's touchdown catch was his first scoring play in the red zone this season. Prior to that point, Brady had been 0-for-5 when targeting Gronkowski in the red zone.
Gronkowski had 55 red-zone touchdowns from 2010 to 2017, tied with Jimmy Graham for most in the league over that span.
His re-emergence on Sunday was a welcome sight to Brady and others in the locker room.
"I'm very happy for Rob," longtime captain Matthew Slater said. "I've had the good fortune of being here for the entirety of his career, and being able to watch it firsthand is something I've really enjoyed. I can tell you, no one works harder than Rob, no one loves football more than Rob.
"With everything that he's been through, for him to bounce back from time to time, it says a lot about the type of man he is, and handling those situations. It's great to have him on the field. We're a better football team when he's on the field, and when he's doing what he did [Sunday]."