Gronk: Earl Thomas hit one of the hardest I've taken

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When Rob Gronkowski goes rumbling down the seam, it's usually the Patriots tight end who does the punishing. The equation can have a different result when Earl Thomas is involved.

In the second quarter of Sunday night's Super Bowl XLIX rematch, Thomas dropped Gronkowski with a clean hit to the chest that sent Gronk to the sidelines for five plays. Bonus points to the Seahawks' All-Pro safety for decking one of the game's titans and walking away like it was nothing.

After the Patriots' 31-24 loss, Gronk acknowledged few players have ever hit him harder.

"Yeah, that was a big hit for sure; probably one of the hardest I've got hit in my career for sure," he said, via CBSSports.com. "(It was) by a good player; a good fast player who's like a missile."

"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. 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 breath, but once it comes back, you're good."

Gronk is such a bulk that often times defenders opt to go low in an effort took take him off his feet and, you know, live to see their family again. You may remember a low hit tore up Gronk's knee and ended his season in 2013. Thomas fearlessly took Gronk on, which tells you a lot.

"Yeah, it was a good, clean hit," Gronk said. "I have no problem with it. He hit me fair and square. It's football. You're going to get laid out eventually."

That walk-off, though ...

UPDATE 6:40 p.m. ET: Earl Thomas probably has something to do with this:

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