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Monday, December 9, 2013

Gronk's Torn ACL Overshadows Another Video-Game Like Comeback by the Patriots

As a sports fan, besides big losses, there are few things more depressing than a serious injury to a star player. Unfortunately, the Patriots will wake up tomorrow having to game-plan the rest of the season and playoffs without Rob Gronkowski who reportedly tore his ACL on a brutal hit by T.J. Ward (helmet to knee). Sure New England (10-3 overall, 7-0 home) rallied for another insane 27-26 comeback victory over Cleveland (4-9 overall, 1-5 away) at Gillette Stadium but forgive us if our minds were wandering a bit. Plus who ever believed the Browns would hand the Pats their first home loss of 2013 (7-0)?

You can't overstate Gronk's importance which is why the Pats had morphed into the top-scoring offense in the league again after he returned from arm/back surgeries. This will be the third straight postseason that he's been hurt which makes you wonder if the poor guy will ever have a fully healthy season (regular season and playoffs) in the NFL.

I said the same thing last week when the Texans gagged a game away to the Patriots but today was the epitome of a certain win that only a few miserable squads can successfully hand over to the opposition. The Browns were up 19-3 late in the third quarter on Josh Gordon's (7 catches, 151 yards; 34-yard run) 80-yard catch and run.

Shane Vereen (12 catches, 153 yards) took over on the next drive and earned his way to a six-yard touchdown run. Julian Edelman (6 catches, 64 yards) caught the two-point conversion as the momentum started to swing towards New England.

Stephen Gostkowski's 50-yard field goal cut it to 19-14 but Jordan Cameron (9 catches, 121 yards) appeared to put it away with a four-yard touchdown catch from Jason Campbell (29 of 44, 391 yards, 3 TDs) on a basic play action pass. Tom Brady (32 of 52, 418 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) calmly drove down the field and threw a two-yard touchdown to Edelman who was drilled but hung on (and stayed in the game).

Gostkowski's onside kick was the play of the game though as Kyle Arrington recovered it at Cleveland's 39. Haha only the Browns. By that point, New England getting one last touchdown felt inevitable and so it went with Danny Amendola catching a one-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left.

New England actually left too much time on the clock for Cleveland's horrible offense and Campbell sort of got them in field goal range. I don't think fans of Cleveland teams can actually feel any lower but the Browns tried to toy with their emotions a little more as Billy Cundiff of all people was dragged out for a 58-yard field goal attempt in the last seconds. Do I even have to tell you that it was short?

Gronk is having an MRI tomorrow but countless NFL reporters said his season is over after this game so I'll go with that until I hear otherwise. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win on Sunday (1, CBS) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami vs. the Dolphins (7-6 overall, 2nd in AFC East). They beat Miami 27-17 in Week 8 at Gillette Stadium but New England always struggles in Miami for whatever reason (the clubs?).

UPDATE 12/9: The news about Gronk couldn't be much worse as he also tore his MCL in his right knee along with the ACL and also suffered a concussion so he was put on IR. Yikes. The Patriots re-signed tight end D.J. Williams to take his place on the 53-man roster; this is the third season in a row that Grnonkowi's missed important games at the end of the season.

UPDATE 12/10: I can't really explain why but the Patriots-Ravens game in Week 16 was flexed from Sunday night to a 4:25 p.m. start. Bears-Eagles will take its place, I guess we should be content with more time to sleep after so many late-night games this season for New England.

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