Gronk's vintage performance
The Bucs could have won with one touchdown, but it took a goal-line stand and some halfhearted drives in the fourth to keep them from scoring 40. The guy who stood out as their best player on that side of the ball was hawking CBD and about to embark on a WWE career this time last year.

Rob Gronkowski isn't the every-drive threat he once was, but during his final season with the Patriots in 2018, we saw Tom Brady target him in key situations and on the biggest stage.

On Sunday, the guy who said he was a "blocking tight end" earlier this season was much more than a blocker. In addition to excellent blocking on the ground, he was a matchup problem for the Chiefs, who never really found a solution for the future Hall of Famer. Gronk had five catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and added a sixth catch after the break.

The two touchdowns were a reminder of Gronk's range as a target. The first one was an RPO in which the Bucs put safety Daniel Sorensen in conflict. Sorensen was a target for the 49ers a year ago with Kyle Juszczyk in the red zone, and the same issue popped up again here. Gronk started as an inline tight end and came across the formation, with Mike Evans setting a natural pick for Gronk upfield. Sorensen hesitated to look into the backfield as part of his run responsibilities, and by then Gronkowski was in the flat with an easy path into the end zone.

On the next score, Gronk lined up as part of a trips bunch with Cameron Brate and Chris Godwin and ran a fade against Chiefs slot corner L'Jarius Sneed. Brate was actually the first option on the play against Sorensen, but when that wasn't open, Brady came back to Gronk's side. He wasn't really open, but Brady threw the ball to where he thought his legendary tight end was going. It's like these two have played together before:

It was clear throughout the game that the plan for the Bucs, just as it was for the 49ers a year ago, was to attack the Chiefs' linebackers and safeties in coverage. Evans and Godwin combined for three catches and 40 yards. Antonio Brown had five catches, but they went for just 22 yards and a short touchdown. Gronkowski, Brate and Leonard Fournette combined to go 13-of-14 for 139 yards with Gronk's two scores. Tyrann Mathieu was in coverage on Brown's touchdown.

Bill Barnwell,, published 8 February 2021