The AFC Championship game has New England heading to Denver for a highly anticipated Sunday afternoon match up. The Patriots and Broncos have provided fans with some great games over the past few seasons. The championship game brings not just the top two seeded teams in the AFC together but also the top two quarterbacks of this era of football to face each other once again in what is likely the last Brady vs Manning post season match up. With the high stakes of a Super Bowl appearance on the line, the hype of a Brady vs Manning contest, and the pairing of Gronk, Edelman, and Amendola vs the Denver secondary led by Harris Jr, Talib, and the physically dangerous T.J. Ward has also led to some entertaining banter between the teams.
In a SportsCenter interview Tuesday Chris Harris Jr. was asked about stopping Rob Gronkowski, his response was the following: “You gotta hit him low, man. Hit him in his knees. That’s the best chance you got of hitting him.” As many know Gronkowski has had his share of injuries, particularly to his knee dating back to the 2013 ACL and MCL tear precipitated by T.J. Ward’s untimely contact to the knee at the exact moment Gronk planted his foot in the ground. The hit jarred open the debate of low hits being clean hits as Gronk was sidelined with the season ending injury. Another scare for the big tight end happened on a snowy night this November in the lost to Denver where a shoulder to knee appeared much worse than it actually was and had Gronk and all of New England holding their breath. To be fair to Chris Harris Jr tackling Gronkowski low may be the only way to drag him to the ground. He is too big and strong for most defensive backs to pull down alone and, with speed to out run linebackers if able to get loose, is one of the best yards after contact receivers in the league. Whether Gronkowski actually took offense to the comment about hitting him low or just sounded off in anticipation of the biggest game of the season Gronk responded in a very Gronk way with this double entendre via twitter: https://twitter.com/PaetyWinant. Without diving into the implied meaning of the duel-edged comment it is clear to see Gronkowski fans and followers will likely have a laugh at the expense of an unappreciative Broncos squad, as tensions between the teams continue to rise heading into Sunday.
With the history of these two post-season giants, a quarterback rivalry dating back over a decade, Gronkowski’s history and Ward’s presence the comments made by Harris and response from Gronk have gained a lot of traction in the build up to Sunday’s game. Ultimately this is probably the least serious thing that will be discussed this week leading up to the game but it is entertaining to see the two sides go at each other and for those following along to have a laugh as the Broncos now have some great white board material. After all it is going to almost necessary as the week rolls on to talk about something other than Brady vs Manning statistics and which analyst picks who as the best quarterback of the era. At this point both signal callers know that success is measured in rings and both will be playing for a chance to get their teams to another Super Bowl and solidify an already established greatness.