Jaguars safety Barry Church concussed Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter of the AFC Championship on Sunday, this after lowering the boom to prevent Gronk from coming down with a catch.
Church was flagged for unnecessary roughness, which was the right call, but it’s clear he was trying to make a textbook hit.
“When I watch guys now play the game, I think that they’ve gotten the message pretty loud and clear about trying to take the head out of it,” NFL on FOX analyst Charles Davis said on Taz & The Moose. “The bottom line, though, is if you’re going to put your shoulder into another guy’s chest, where’s your head? It’s above you, right? So even when you try and do it the correct way, it’s hard to keep your head out of it. Barry Church tried to go shoulder into chest, and the head got involved with the face mask of Gronk.
“Absolutely the right call,” Davis continued, “but absolutely he was not trying to go helmet-to-helmet on purpose. The strikes zones, it’s going to be almost impossible to take it all out of there, but he tried to do it the right way. It just didn’t work out. When you (hit) someone in the chest, where does their head naturally come? It comes down toward you. So guess what? You’re going to end up with contact.”
The Patriots fared just fine without Gronkowski, who finished with one catch for 21 yards. They outscored the Jaguars 21-6 over the final two-plus quarters, turning a 14-3 deficit into a 24-20 win. Danny Amendola finished with seven catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns, while Brandin Cooks added six for 100.
It was vintage Patriots. One man goes down, another steps up.
“I never want to take away what the effect of Gronk is – because the affect of Gronk on a game, as we know, is huge,” Davis said. “But here’s one of those weird sports stats that almost doesn’t make sense. Last season, when he got hurt, they went 11-0 and won a Super Bowl without him. He gets hurt in the second quarter of this game and they’re down, and they find a way to win anyway. That doesn’t mean, ‘We can play without Gronk. We’re just fine.’ That’s not my point. My point is this team knows how to get around that and has for awhile. They find ways to get it done. They make those plays that you need to make. That’s just kind of who they are.”
The Jaguars, meanwhile, had the Patriots on the ropes for much of the afternoon but were never able to deliver the knockout punch.
“If you don’t kill them, they come and get you,” Davis said. “It’s that simple. They’re zombies. If you don’t kill them – and if you don’t kill them at 28-3 – you’re not going to kill them at 14-3. . . . I think the call on Myles Jack where he didn’t get a chance to run maybe for a touchdown, that might have been the (play that changed the game). But the bottom line is if you don’t kill New England, you can forget it. They’re going to come back and get you.”