DENVER -- No one has been harder on New England Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen than Allen himself. Though he had made his mark as a blocker, he was looking for his first catch at the midpoint of the season.
So after finally breaking through in Sunday night's 41-16 win against the Denver Broncos with his first catch -- an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter -- he said "it felt amazing to get that monkey off my back and to start heading in a positive direction."
But before he heads there, with his focus on consistency, he turned philosophical about his first nine games with the team.
"I hope it's a lesson for a lot of young guys," he relayed. "I came into this league wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and thought everything was going to be given to me, and you come here to a winning football club and you learn that it takes self-sacrifice. You have to give up yourself for the benefit of the team, and that's what it is all about. Sometimes you are rewarded with a touchdown."
Earlier in the game, he had the chance for a touchdown catch when quarterback Tom Brady looked his way in the end zone on second-and-goal from the 1, but couldn't bring it in.
"[Safety Will] Parks made a great play. He was able to come over the top. I grabbed it with my fingertips and just didn't have enough time to secure it," Allen explained.
The play was reflective of what had been Allen's rocky transition into the offense as a pass-catcher. He has been the first to admit that after five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, things hadn't gone as smoothly as hoped, in part because of the struggle to get on the same page with Brady with the non-verbal communication that is so critical to the offense.
But as Bill Belichick pointed out after Sunday night's game, that wasn't all on Allen.
"Unfortunately we've missed him a few times when he's been wide open for some big plays," Belichick said.
Looking ahead, though the Patriots have added Martellus Bennett to the tight-end room, Allen is still part of the plans (his block on Dion Lewis' touchdown run Sunday night was textbook). It's a crowded position with Rob Gronkowski, Bennett, Allen and rookie Jacob Hollister, whose role on special teams continues to grow.
"Very talented," Allen said, when asked how good the group can be. "Chemistry is one big thing, and Martellus having played here last year, having that chemistry with Tom ... the room we have is amazing. And let's not forget [fullback] James Develin, he's in the room also. It's all about how we come to work each week and how we focus on getting better."