FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski had surgery on his broken forearm Monday morning and he is looking at a four-to-eight week timetable for a return. The fallout as the Patriots head into the stretch run will be significant.
Gronkowski broke the forearm on an extra point after the Patriots final touchdown. Arm-flapping over the fact Gronkowski was blocking for the 59th Patriots point will ensue.
Bill Belichick tends to roll his starters out to play deep into games that are decided so the fact Gronkowski was on the field isn't surprising. The result, of course, is unfortunate for the player and the team but that, Belichick seems to believe, is the cost of doing business in a collision sport.
No player replicates Gronkowski's ability as a player. On Sunday he had seven catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He's also a terrific blocker and, along with Welker, is the key to the Patriots offense. He is a matchup nightmare and -- after a season in which he's been dogged by a balky back -- he was moving very well on Sunday.
But the imminent return of tight end Aaron Hernandez from his high ankle sprain will help soften the blow delivered by the Gronkowski injury. The Patriots also have a stockpile of tight ends on the roster -- Daniel Fells, Visanthe Shiancoe and Michael Hoomanawanui -- so the team will not be without options.
Still, the role Gronkowski plays in the Patriots offense means New England will have to reconfigure its offense for four-to-eight weeks.