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Rob Gronkowski’s ribs, routes back at full strength

The Bucs tight end posts his first 100-yard receiving game of 2021.
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs out of a tackle by the Colts' George Odum (30) during the second half Sunday. Gronkowski finished with seven catches (on 10 targets) for 123 yards.
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs out of a tackle by the Colts' George Odum (30) during the second half Sunday. Gronkowski finished with seven catches (on 10 targets) for 123 yards. [ AJ MAST | AP ]
Published Nov. 28, 2021

His ribs presumably all mended, Rob Gronkowski has gone back to fracturing pass coverages.

In his second full game since suffering fractured ribs and a punctured lung in Week 3 against the Rams, Gronkowski finished with a season-high 123 yards on seven catches in Sunday’s 38-31 victory. It was his 30th game with at least 100 yards, only one shy of the NFL record held by Tony Gonzalez, according to ESPN.

Gronkowski has totaled 13 catches for 194 yards in his last two contests.

“He was huge,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said.

“There were a couple of times I wish he was in earlier on a couple of drives, but again, (we’re) watching his snap count pretty good so he’s successful, but he brings so much. That third down, short in the flat, and he runs 11 yards (on the Bucs’ third scoring drive), that’s what Gronk does. And that fired up our sideline huge.”

Injuries aplenty early

They arrived in the Midwest as healthy as one could reasonably expect for an NFL team in the season’s 12th week. But barely five minutes into Sunday’s contest in Indianapolis, the Bucs had three starters sidelined.

Cornerback Jamel Dean (shoulder), inside linebacker Devin White (hip) and left guard Aaron Stinnie (knee) all were deemed questionable to return by the game’s fourth possession. Dee Delaney replaced Dean, while Kevin Minter and Nick Leverett stepped in for White and Stinnie, respectively.

Kick returner Jaelon Darden joined the sidelined guys late in the second half with concussion-like symptoms.

“I think we played six minutes and lost four starters in this game,” Arians said. “So you say, ‘Okay, this is going to be a long one.’”

White ultimately returned, finishing with only three tackles. Leverett, essentially the third-string left guard (starter Ali Marpet was inactive with an abdominal injury) was whistled for holding and a false start and was responsible for at least one of Tom Brady’s sacks, but Arians said he’d get a game ball.

Missing from the injury list was nose tackle Vita Vea, who lost an upper front tooth when Colts guard Mark Glowinski’s helmet smashed into his chin strap in the second quarter.

“I don’t care,” Arians said. “He’s got 30 other ones.”

By the numbers

0 First downs allowed by the Bucs in the first quarter, the first time they’ve held a foe without a first down in any quarter since their home win against the Chargers on Oct. 4, 2020

4 Penalties committed by the Bucs on Sunday, their fewest in a road game this season

15 Turnovers caused by pressure by Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett since joining the Buccaneers in 2019. That leads the NFL during the span (according to Next Gen Stats)

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17 Career rushing touchdowns by tailback Ronald Jones, passing Ricky Bell (16) for eighth-most in franchise history. Jones’ 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave the Bucs a 28-24 lead

35 Sacks for Barrett as a Buccaneer, moving him past Chidi Ahanotu (34.5) for sixth-most in franchise history

58 Rushing yards (on eight carries) by NFL rushing leader Jonathan Taylor on the Colts’ final touchdown drive

25 Rushing yards totaled by Taylor in his eight other carries Sunday

146 Career starts by inside linebacker Lavonte David, passing Tony Mayberry for the fourth-most in franchise history

216 Yards totaled by the Colts in the second quarter, when they scored 21 points

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