The Patriots won’t have record-setting Rob Gronkowski for the AFC championship game against the Ravens.
He broke his forearm in Sunday’s divisional playoff win vs. the Houston Texans. When the Patriots lost to the Ravens in Week 3, Gronkowski wasn't much of a factor. He only had two catches for 21 yards.
Gronkowski set an NFL record last season when the Patriots eliminated the Ravens in the AFC title game and advanced to the Super Bowl. He couldn't play, however, because of an ankle injury when they lost to the New York Giants. Gronkowski had 1,327 yards and 17 TDs in the 2011 regular season.
"When we played the Super Bowl, it was our first game without him in two years," Brady told Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI, a Boston radio station. "Not that that's any excuse because there are no excuses, but there's an uncertainty of how guys are going to play and step in. Well we know now. We know the types of packages we'll use and what we'll do and the different ways we'll try to find some weakness in the defense based on our groups and so forth."
The Patriots have won seven of nine meetings with the Ravens. After Sunday, they will have met six times since 2009.
“I think you get a feel for some coverages, but we've played them enough where we know the players, we know their strengths, we'll just work hard to see what they've done since our game,” Brady said. “There's a lot of tape to be watched, but they're playing their best football right now.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh feels the same way. Aaron Hernandez will have a bigger role with Gronkowski's absence, but there won't be any surprises.
“There’s a lot of familiarity there,” he said Monday. “It’s something that we will go back (and look at). We've got a lot of tape of us playing each other.”