The Patriots fell to the Broncos and may have lost Rob Gronkowski for a long period of time. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER — If you were looking for Tom Brady or any of the Patriots to immediately throw Broncos safety Darian Stewart into the same category as T.J. Ward and Bernard Pollard, you’d be disappointed.
The Patriots quarterback was asked directly about the hit that Stewart laid on Gronkowski near the Denver 40-yard line on an incomplete pass with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter. As was the case in 2013, when Ward (then with the Browns) went low on the same right knee causing Gronk to tear his ACL and MCL, Stewart went low to take out the Patriots tight end.
Gronkowski’s lower body twisted violently and he landed on the ground in pain.
“I hate to see it, but it really is the only way defenders can hit now,” Brady said. “I bet if you asked the players, they would really rather go high than low. I don’t think it’s dirty. I just think that is how football is played now.”
Gronkowski did not address reporters after the game but rather got dressed in front of his locker in sweat pants and walked out of the locker room and headed for the team bus.
“Absolutely, he has been through a lot. He is a tough guy. Hopefully, it’s not too serious and our fingers are crossed,” Brady said.
Scott Chandler finished with five catches on a team-leading 11 targets for 58 yards and a touchdown. Chandler made a key catch across the middle to set up Stephen Gostkowski‘s field goal to send to overtime. Now, he figures to replace Gronkowski if the right knee injury puts him on the shelf for an extended period.
“We will need to rely on him quite a bit,” Brady added. “He is going to be a major contributor for our team. It was good to see him do that and we will see how it will go going forward.”
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