LeSean McCoy wasn't the only star player to get needlessly injured late in a blowout. Reports out of New England say Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski broke his arm late in the Patriots' 59-24 stomping of Indianapolis, and has already undergone surgery. He's expected to return in time for the playoffs.
Does Bill Belichick deserve the kind of shit Andy Reid is getting for keeping his top weapon in harm's way in a game that was already decided? Yes, but probably not to the same extent. The Patriots are known for running up the score, but they weren't particularly dickish about it yesterday. Over the final 12 minutes of the game, spanning three drives, the Pats never went deep, instead calling a series of runs broken up by a few dump passes. This wasn't like the Eagles calling plays for McCoy—Gronkowski was targeted just once in the fourth. Though the Pats have multiple tight ends (not including Aaron Hernandez, who missed another game), Gronk is far and away the best blocker of the bunch, so taking him out could have been more dangerous to the team than leaving him in.
More than that, it was on the most low-risk of plays that Gronkowski got hurt—he was blocking on an extra point, just a total freak thing. (There's a bigger PAT debate to be had here, beyond even garbage time tries. Ron Borges doesn't think a valuable player should be out there on any extra points. The NBC studio crew says there's no such thing as a special teams second unit—which doesn't mean Gronkowski individually couldn't have been taken out. Injuries on PATs do happen, but they're so rare, I doubt it even crossed Belichick's mind.)
But what's done is done, until the league checks in. These are the Patriots, and they are physically incapable of handling injuries like a normal team. There still hasn't been any official announcement about Gronkowski's status, even though it was being reported immediately after the game. Late last night, a team spokesperson would only say ''he left the game with an arm injury." Even now, the story on the Patriots' website cites Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport. The NFL is notoriously strict about quickly and accurately reporting injuries, even in-game. The league's media policy states that "the injury reporting policy relates directly to the integrity of the game," even if it is mostly about gambling. But the Patriots have remained mum, and Mike Freeman wonders if this isn't the sort of thing that could garner them a fine from the league.
With no fiestas for 4-6 weeks, New England will go with a combination of Visanthe Shiancoe, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, and the soon-to-return Aaron Hernandez. Three games up in a crappy division in an awful conference, they'll be fine.