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Rob Gronkowski cites preparation, inconsistency as reasons for loss

09.17.12 at 1:25 am ET

FOXBORO — In the second quarter of the Patriots’ loss to the Cardinals, Tom Brady‘€™s eyes likely lit up as he saw Rob Gronkowski get behind the secondary and race toward the back of the end zone. Brady unloaded a bomb that fell in … and out of the outstretched arms of the All-Pro tight end. The play exemplified Gronkowski’€™s up-and-down day.

‘€œI have to go out there and play better,’€ Gronkowski said. ‘€œThe first three quarters, I got to go out there and play better. The start of the game, I have to go out there and start faster and start stronger. Overall, I just have to improve in every aspect of the game.’€

The game was a mixed bag in every possible sense for Gronkowski. His line of six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown was solid, but along with the rest of the sputtering offense, Gronkowski seemed out of sync at times. His critical touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter brought New England within two, but he couldn’€™t gain enough separation from Kerry Rhodes to connect with Brady on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt. Perhaps worse was the holding penalty called on Gronkowski that negated Danny Woodhead‘€™s touchdown run that would have given New England a lead with under a minute left.

‘€œI felt like it was a clean block,’€ Gronkowski said about the call. ‘€œMy hands were inside [his shoulder pads], but I have to look at the film. You guys so it, too, you saw probably the replay, so you can tell me if my hands were outside or not.’€

Regardless, Gronkowski was more focused on playing well for 60 minutes and better preparation in practice than pondering about the fourth quarter what-ifs.

‘€œWe were playing awful,’€ he said. ‘€œI was playing awful. I have to go out there play better, play faster, and play stronger and not just in the fourth quarter. Just staying in the game is not good enough. You have to go out there the whole game playing hard.

‘€œClearly we didn’€™t practice good enough,’€ Gronkowski continued. ‘€œI didn’€™t practice good enough all week. We have to pick that up and be ready for all situations at all times. I just feel like you go out there and [practice] is where it all starts at. But I mean, obviously, it’€™s game day where it’€™s all played, but we have to execute all game.’€

While admitting Aaron Hernandez is a vital part of the game plan every week, Gronkowski, to his credit, wouldn’€™t let the injury to his fellow tight end’€™s ankle explain the uneven performance.

‘€œYou have to be ready for any situation in any game,” he said. “That’€™s what practice is for all week.’€

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