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PHOENIX (Reuters) - There will be no shortage of fascinating match-ups in Sunday’s Super Bowl but the clash between New England tight end Rob Gronkowski and Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor could be the most crucial.
Gronkowski caught 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season with his power and positional astuteness making him quarterback Tom Brady’s go-to option.
But on Sunday he will be up against an opponent who matches him for physicality and athleticism.
Asked what the first collision between the pair will be like, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said, “It’s going to be loud. Two big, strong men - - I think that’s what football is about. I think a lot of people are looking forward to that.”
Chancellor is one of the standout members of Seattle’s league-best defense but he knows he is in for a busy night against Gronkowski.
“That’s their playmaker, that’s their go-to guy. They’re definitely going to try and target him a lot, try to get him the ball,” said Chancellor, who brings strength and speed to the secondary.
Gronkowski is one of the biggest tight ends in the league at 6 foot 6 and 225 pounds but Chancellor says he is ready.
“He’s a tight end for a reason. He was blessed with that size, that speed and that ability.
“He is an athletic guy, fast guy and he’s crafty with what he does. He uses his body well to shed off defenders. He catches the ball well. He has a great quarterback. It’s a quarterback that looks for him on a lot of plays, and he gets a lot of target,” said Chancellor, who said the officials will largely determine just how physical their contest becomes.
For Seahawks coach Pete Caroll, Gronkowski, an intelligent route runner, poses several problems, requiring a flexible strategy.
“Kam Chancellor is about as big as a strong safety as you will find (but) we’ll have to play him a number of different ways to have a chance to slow him (Gronkowski) down. They’ll get the ball to him, it’s just how effective it will be.
"We have to do a terrific job of it because if we don’t, then he can control the football game.”
Editing by Gene Cherry