Like some sort of reverse Christmas morning, where the presents are torn ligaments and the tinsel is an early playoff exit (I’m still working on the analogy), Patriots fans had to be dreading waking up to details on Rob Gronkowski’s scary-looking knee injury, which caused the star TE to be carted off late in New England’s 30-24 overtime loss in Denver. Well, wake the children and tell them the good news: from preliminary reports, it appears that Gronk will be OK.

Patriots sources told reporters last night and early this morning that the injury “doesn’t appear to be serious,” which is an unexpectedly good outcome considering how bad it looked. The fateful play came with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Broncos safety Darian Stewart hit Gronkowski low on a tackle, whipping his right leg back under and behind him:

It wasn’t an intentional hit; Stewart may have been trying to put a shoulder on the ball to cause a fumble, or at least to bring Gronkowski down by upending, since he’s so large and strong that wrapping him up doesn’t always work so well.


Tom Brady said it was a clean hit, but one of a sort he sees more often since the NFL cracked down on hits to the head.

“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 was carted off and taken for x-rays, and in the first hopeful sign, was walking gingerly but unaided:


Reporters saw Gronkowski in the locker room, bending down and lifting luggage, and talking about the game, and not long after the final whistle the first reports on his status leaked, and they were good:


The Seahawks knew within a couple of hours that their own pass-catching tight end was done for the year with his knee injury, so whatever happened to Gronk, it’s at least not immediately catastrophic.


That’s a huge relief for the Patriots’ offense, which has lost just about every one of Tom Brady’s weapons for varying lengths of time, including Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, and Dion Lewis. The receiving corps should be intact for the postseason, but that wouldn’t mean much without Gronkowski.

The loss to the Broncos pales in comparison to the victory of learning that Gronkowski won’t miss much time. So it was kind of an obvious question to ask Bill Belichick how he felt when he saw Gronk go down. Belichick doesn’t like obvious questions, and responded with a death stare.