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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is done for the season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee during Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots won the game 27-26.
Gronkowski suffered the injury during the third quarter. He caught a pass from Tom Brady and then took a direct hit in the right knee from Browns safety T.J. Ward and fell to the ground in pain, according to ESPN. Ward hit Gronkowski low due to fear of being fined by the NFL.
"It was a decision I made just to make a tackle on a big man, and unfortunately he got hurt," Ward said. "But if I would've hit up high, there's a chance I would get fined and all that other stuff. I'm just being safe."
This isn’t the first time that the Patriots have been without Gronkowski. He missed the first six games of this season after having back and forearm surgeries. In the six games that he played, the Patriots had scored the second-most points in the league, but they were the 22nd best scoring offense without him.
Losing Gronkowski is a huge loss for the Patriots. He is one of their biggest stars on offense. He had 37 catches for 560 yards and four touchdowns entering Sunday’s game, according to USA Today. In 2011 he set an NFL record for tight ends with 17 receiving touchdowns during the regular season. Gronkowski signed an eight-year, $55.24 million contract extension in June 2012.
The Patriots are 10-3 and coach Bill Belichick hope that they use experience from earlier this season in playing without Gronkowski.
"I'd like to think there's going to be some carryover there. Not only [was] it the first six weeks of the season, but the entire training camp as well. I think that's the way we practiced and played most of the year, including the preseason, that's 10 games," Belichick said. "It was great to have him back and he was obviously a big contributor for us because he's an outstanding player. I hope that his situation isn't as serious as what it might be, but if it is, then I'm sure it'll be some combination of what we've already done this year, or maybe because we have a few different players and we're at a different point of the season, it may be some different things, too."