Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Buffalo-bills-new-england
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Brady was not going to let his returning toy go untargeted. Rob Gronkowski was thrown to a game-high 17 times on Sunday in the Patriots’ loss to the Jets. He caught eight of those passes for 114 yards, but the return certainly could have gone better for the All-Pro tight end. And a win would have cleared all mistakes. Gronkowski lost one ball in the lights in the end zone and he had two key drops on the Patriots’ fourth quarter drive that resulted in a game-tying field goal. He wouldn’t admit he was knocking off any rust, though. “I wouldn’t want to put it like that, because that’s what practice is for — to knock off the rust,” Gronkowski said. “There’s just no excuses. Just gotta make plays at all times. Just gotta work hard in practice and got to keep on grinding. I have to keep on getting better every week.” Gronkowski admitted he lost the ball in the lights in the end zone. It wasn’t clear what happened on the play at the time as the ball sailed over his head and he didn’t reach up for it. “Nah, I didn’t see the ball at all,” Gronkowski said. “But that’s not an excuse. You gotta be prepared for situations like that and I gotta do a better job there. It was a nice throw and it could have potentially been a good play.” Gronkowski will get better. And when he improves, the offense will as well. But the tight end played the majority of snaps and the offense really only looked better in the first quarter. They had issues in the second quarter and came out cold after halftime for the seventh straight week. “We moved the ball sometimes,” Gronkowski said. “But we have to move the ball at all times better and we gotta make more plays. Personally, myself, I gotta come down with some of those plays. I could have had some of them. And I gotta make them.” It was important that Gronkowski did not look hesitant on the field, though, despite missing so many weeks of action. He wore a black padded sleeve on his left arm, but did not seem to be favoring it at all. “It felt good to get back out there with the teammates, play with your team, play hard with your team,” Gronkowski said. “You win as a team and you lose as a team. You gotta give it up to the Jets, they’re a good team. They have a good defense. We just have to make more plays out there and do better.” He said the sleeve did not bother him. He’s been wearing it at practice and he’s used to it. Brady said his tight end “played his butt off” and Bill Belichick said “I thought he went out there and competed.” He was a boost to the offense, but not as impactful as some may have imagined. It appeared that Brady keyed in on Gronkowski, especially toward the end of the game. Brady targeted Gronkowski six times on the final two drives. He caught just three of those passes. It’s not clear where the offense goes from here. The Jets deserve a lot of credit, as Gronkowski mentioned, but the Patriots will need to play better against quality defenses as the season progresses. The offense will need to step up, especially after losing Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork for the season. Of course, there’s still hope on the horizon. The Patriots will get Aqib Talib, Tommy Kelly, Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola back. And Gronkowski will get better and the rookies will keep improving. New England is lucky to be 5-2 at this point in the season, but they have plenty of issues, especially on offense, to solve in the final 10 weeks. Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

WATCH: Serena Williams loses point for yelling "come on!"

Report: Missy Elliott joining Katy Perry for halftime show

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.