New England Patriots

Nine years into a pro career that’s guaranteed to end with his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski admits there’s not much that truly surprises him these days.

That includes this Sunday’s weekend head-to-head with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Gronkowski, who certainly enjoys the ‘big game feel’ of this rivalry’s showdowns in the Steel City.

“I mean, it’s the same thing as every year,” Gronkowski said of the team’s trip to Pittsburgh. “Every time we play them, every time we go there, it’s always like a four o’clock game, gets dark by 4:30, night atmosphere, and it’s always popping. It’s a football atmosphere. It’s a football town. It’s all about the Steelers. So, it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

For Gronkowski, meetings with the Steelers come with more than just a great atmosphere.

In fact, the 29-year-old has downright dominated Pittsburgh throughout his career.

In six career games against the Steelers, Gronkowski has 39 grabs totaling 664 yards and eight touchdown grabs. The 664 yards and eight touchdown catches are Gronkowski’s most against any non-divisional opponent.

These are not outdated figures from the Younger, Healthier Gronk of yesteryear, either, as it was just last year that No. 87 straight-up destroyed the Steelers, with nine catches (on 13 targets) for a season-high 168 receiving yards.

“I think that goes without saying, obviously,” Tomlin said about slowing Gronkowski down this Sunday. “Those that were a part of us understand that. Those that weren’t care less. We better be concerned about preparing ourselves to minimize his impact and do what it is that we need to do to be successful this time around.”

Nevertheless, it appears Gronkowski is as eager as can be to get on that field.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun to play in,” Gronkowski concluded. “Like it always is.”