TAMPA — With his 8-yard touchdown reception Sunday evening — to give the Bucs a 7-3 lead over the Chiefs in the first quarter — Rob Gronkowski snagged a sliver of Super Bowl immortality.
The Canton-bound tight end, primarily a blocker and de facto decoy through the Bucs’ first three playoff games, became the first player to catch a pass in five different Super Bowls, according to ESPN researchers.
Those games (Super Bowls 46, 49, 52, 53 and 55) span 10 seasons, dating to 2012. Gronkowski entered Sunday’s contest as one of eight players with a catch in four different Super Bowls, a fraternity including Jerry Rice, Andre Reed, John Stallworth, Thurman Thomas, Kevin Faulk, Kenneth Davis and Keith McKeller.
He had totaled only two catches (on seven total targets) in the Bucs’ first three playoff games while proving indispensable as an extra blocker in max-protection packages.
“Blocking keeps you around,” Gronkowski said earlier this week. “There are some tight ends in the league that they’re just known for their blocking, and that keeps them around for years. Just the more you can do will keep you around longer, and it will keep you out on the field, too.”
He and quarterback Tom Brady also surpassed Joe Montana and Rice (12) for most playoff touchdown connections in NFL history. They’re now up to 14.
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