After convincingly taking down the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, the New England Patriots have advanced to the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive season in order to face the Baltimore Ravens yet again.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the win over the Texans didn’t come without a costly injury with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski re-injuring his broken arm on a catch in the first quarter against the Texans.
As a result of the injury, Gronkowski will miss the rest of the playoffs and the Patriots’ best offensive weapon will be forced to watch from the sidelines as New England tries to get the best of the Ravens for a second year in a row in order to advance to the Super Bowl once again.
Although losing Gronkowski for the rest of the postseason is a major blow to the offense with Tom Brady’s favorite target out of the mix after returning only a few weeks ago, the Patriots’ coaching staff and Brady are confident they can make the right adjustments moving forward via Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com:
“Sure. I think we put much more time in this year than we — for example, like last year, when we played the Super Bowl, it was our first game without him in two years,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on the “Dennis and Callahan Show” on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “Not that that’s any excuse because there are no excuses, but there’s an uncertainty of how guys are going to play and step in. Well we know now, we know the types of packages we’ll use and what we’ll do and the different ways we’ll try to find some weakness in the defense based on our groups and so forth.”
If any team left in the postseason can adjust to losing their best receiver, it’s the Patriots. Despite losing Gronkowski for five of the final six games of the regular season, New England only lost one of those five games to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fortunately for New England, the Patriots have a solid backup at the tight end position in Aaron Hernandez. As long as Hernandez can continue to help fill the void left by Gronkowski, the Patriots’ offense shouldn’t miss a beat moving forward.