It takes a village: Steelers look to 'group effort' to contain Patriots' Rob Gronkowski

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PITTSBURGH -- No tight end terrorizes the Steelers' defense quite like Rob Gronkowski, who has Pittsburgh's full attention entering Sunday's matchup with the New England Patriots in Heinz Field.

Containing Gronkowski -- who has 30 catches, 496 yards and eight touchdowns in five career games against the Steelers -- will be a "group effort," safety Mike Mitchell said.

"We've got several guys we're going to try to throw (at him)," Mitchell said. "It's going to require coaches calling the right calls, it's going be us executing everything they call to a T. There's no real one real answer."

Asked why 'Gronk' is such a matchup nightmare, Mitchell simply said, "He's 6-7."

Gronkowski is listed at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, but he's been too big for Steelers defensive backs and too fast for their linebackers.

The Steelers have tried a little bit of everything on Gronkowski. Before the 2015 season-opener, several Steelers said publicly they would jam the tight end at the line of scrimmage. He went for three touchdowns that week to fuel a 28-21 Patriots victory.

In the 2016 regular season, the Steelers tried safety Robert Golden, who got spun around on a 36-yard touchdown en route to a 27-16 Patriots win.

Among the Steelers' size-and-speed options include 6-1 safety Sean Davis and 6-4 outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who's proved talented in pass coverage. If paired with Gronk, Watt's "not going to turn down a challenge," he said. "At the end of the day, it's just about getting hands on him and trying to disrupt him as best as possible," Watt said.