The New England Patriots won big against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon, but they lost a key component of their team in the process.
According to ESPN, star tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his arm at the end of the Patriots' 59-24 victory. He had surgery on Monday to repair the break, and the injury could keep him on the shelf for four to six weeks, sources speculate.
Gronkowski suffered the blow during the Patriots final extra point with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Patriots and Gronkowski have been tight-lipped about a timetable for his return, but he's expected to return before the end of the season.
During his weekly appearance on WEEI sports radio Boston, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady explained the team's state-of-mind going forward without their star tight end.
“He's such a great player, it sucks that he gets hurt, but it's part of this game,” Brady said. "He's got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we've got to go out there and win some games without him."
Going into the 2012 season, the Patriots were believed to possess one of the most vaunted receiving corps in the NFL. In week two however, Gronkowski's counterpart, TE Aaron Hernandez, went down with an ankle injury. So far, he's missed with six games with the ailment.
While Hernandez is expected to return soon, New England will lean on backup tight ends Daniel Fells and Visanthe Shiancoe in the absence of their two primary pass-catchers at that position.
Filling in for Gronkowski will be no easy task. So far this season, he's reeled in 53 balls for 748 and 10 touchdowns. Before he broke his forearm Sunday, Gronkowski snagged two touchdowns and 137 yards versus the Colts.
The Patriots next hit the field on Thanksgiving night, when they square off with division rival the New York Jets in New Jersey.