SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski: Hit from Seahawks’ Earl Thomas among hardest he’s ever taken

Nov 14, 2016, 12:48 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm

In the second quarter of the Seahawks’ 31-24 win over New England Sunday night, Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski went up the seam for a Tom Brady pass. Strong safety Kam Chancellor batted the ball out of the air while free safety Earl Thomas lowered his shoulder slightly and aimed into Gronkowski’s chest. It was a perfectly legal collision between a 5-foot-10, 202-pound defender and a 6-foot-6, 265-pound receiver. Both bounced backwards, but it was clear who won the encounter.

“That was a big hit, for sure,” Gronkowski told reporters after the game. “Probably one of the hardest I’ve been hit in my career, for sure, by a good player. A good, fast player who’s like a missile.”

While Gronkowski said the hit only knocked the wind out of him and he returned to the game just four snaps later after being checked for a concussion, it turns out he may have suffered a punctured lung in the game, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

“It was a good, clean hit. Nothing against it. I just took it, and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that’s all,” Gronkowski said. “If you’ve ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it’s a little tough to breathe, but once it comes back, you’re good.”

“I have no problem with it,” Gronkowski added. “He hit me fair and square. It’s football. You’re going to get laid out eventually.”

During his appearance with “Brock and Salk” on Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called the defensive sequence the “perfect play” and said Thomas’ hit was “exactly right.” Carroll has been a major proponent of rubgy-style tackling, a leverage-based shoulder tackling method that removes the head from the hit, potentially reducing concussions. The tackle is a prime example of how Carroll teaches defenders to hit – a shoulder shot that was not too low, not too high but right in the “strike zone.”

“When the coverage guy reaches in front, knocks the ball down and the safety drills him right in the chops. Hit him in the strike zone,” Carroll said. “For everybody out there, that’s a classic strike-zone hit. It’s clean and right with his shoulder, got his head out of the way. He did it exactly the way that we hoped that he would. That will forever be, that will go down as the classic strike-zone hit on a player.”

This was not the first whopper Thomas has delivered in his career, and most certainly won’t be his last. Here are a few of his other doozies.

• On then-Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, 2010:

• On Packers running back Eddie Lacy, 2015:

• Some of Thomas’ other greatest hits and highlights:

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