I remember watching this game live and I couldn't believe what was going on when it happened. The Patriots were playing the Falcons in Atlanta early on in 2013. Tony Gonzalez had an absolute beast of a game. With the Falcons in Patriot territory down by a touchdown, Tony had already compiled 12 catches for 149 yards and 2 redzone touchdowns. Roddy White was hobbled but playing hurt so the only other weapon the Patriot defense had to worry about was Julio Jones, who was being guarded for the most part by Aqib Talib.
Belichick knew he had to shut down Gonzalez, but the Patriot defense had no one that could deal with him one on one. So he took a page out of the special teams playbook.
Belichick decided the best course of action would be to sacrifice two of his linebackers and treat Tony Gonzalez like a gunner. They would not allow him to get off the line of scrimmage and they played within the rules. The defender has 5 yards to engage a WR/TE before it is considered illegal contact. With Gonzalez out of the picture, Matt Ryan had only Julio Jones to look for, and Aqib Talib made sure the game was on ice.
If they can do it, why can't we? You're probably going to end up bracketing Gronk anyway. When they get to the redzone, why not put a couple of defenders and check him at the line? If nothing else it disrupts timing and gives the Broncos front 4 a bit more time to put Brady on the ground.
When the Patriots reach the Redzone, Gronkowski has been fantastic. Six out of his seven touchdown receptions have come in the redzone including 4 which have come inside the 10 yard-line. The Patriots have some other options, but our corners have more than enough skill and ability to neutralize them. This Broncos defense is pretty stingy in the redzone having stopped the opposition and a handful of goal-line stands thus far.
If the Broncos are serious about taking Gronkowski out of the picture, this is one way to do it, and they have Bill Belichick to thank for the blueprint.