No Gronk, No Problem?
Over the off-season the Patriots went out and traded for ex Chicago Bears Tight End Martellus Bennett. Bennett was coming off of an injury-plagued season with the lowly last place Bears. This trade was sought to be something along the lines of “Gronk insurance” as the powerful pass catcher has a reputation of being a bit injury prone.
With Gronkowski receiving the dreaded season ending Injured Reserve tag after exiting week 12’s matchup in New York early with back pain. It was time for Bennett to carry the load at tight end. Senior Chris R said, “Out of the AFC I do feel the Pats have the best chance of anyone to make it to Super bowl Sunday, but in the meantime I need to see more out of the defense, the secondary in particular.”
Though it has been just two weeks of life without “Gronk”, but it has been smooth sailing for Bennett and his Patriots. After grinding out a tight, 22-17 divisional road win in New York in week 12 on Chris Long’s game winning strip sack without Rob Gronkowski, the team has not missed a step.
After a 26-10 dismantling off the LA Rams in week 13, the Pats were at home once again in week 14 vs. Baltimore. The Ravens were sitting tight in a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers atop the AFC North with a 7-5 record. The Patriots on the other hand were quite comfortably coasting through the league and were well on their way to posting another winning season. Destined for the playoffs at 10-2, and a three game cushion and tie breaker in hand over the second place, 7-5, Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots were once again on national television, Monday Night Football. Its the biggest football night of the week, primetime, and the group looked to show the rest of the league, yet again, what they were made of.
New England ended up finishing off the Raven’s by a 30-23 score in a game that was not quite as close as it sounds. Due to consecutive, uncharacteristic special teams fumbles, leading to red zone opportunities, the Ravens were able to narrow the once 23-3 New England lead, to just six points, 23-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Eventually, Brady and the dominant Patriot offensive attack would shut the door with the proverbial “cherry on top” posting another touchdown. Sophomore Will C said, “I feel a lot better about them as a whole as they’ve proved a lot over the last few weeks with clutch plays late in games. Chris Long on the defensive line is a key contributor to the success as he has the ability to beat lineman one on one.” Tom Brady connecting with Chris Hogan for a 79 yard touchdown pass that put the game out of reach for Baltimore making the score 30-20 at that point.
This capped off a fourth straight victory for the Patriots putting them at 11-2 on the season, with the opportunity to clinch their division this upcoming week in Denver.
WATCH: Week 14 Patriots vs. Ravens game recap.