The Seahawks might have taken more than just a win away from the Patriots on Sunday.
Star tight end Rob Gronkowski may have suffered a punctured lung after he took a huge hit in the second quarter, NFL Network reported Monday night. He’s expected to miss one game with the injury, according to the report. The Patriots play the 49ers at San Francisco Sunday.
Later Monday night, ESPN reported that the injury was to Gronkowski’s chest, and not a punctured lung, and is “not overly serious.”
The play in question came late in the second quarter, when Gronkowski was tightly covered by defensive back Kam Chancellor on a route down the hashes. He went up for the pass from Tom Brady and was leveled by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who put his shoulder right into the tight end’s chest. Gronkowski was slow to get up, and was then surrounded by the referres and trainers before being led off the field.
It appeared that Gronkowski was going through the concussion protocol on the sideline, but he returned four plays later. After the game, he downplayed the injury.
“Yeah, that was a big hit for sure; probably one of the hardest I’ve got hit in my career for sure,” Gronkowski said. “[It was] by a good player; a good fast player who’s like a missile. It was a good, clean hit; nothing against it.
“I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that’s all. If you’ve ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it’s a little tough to breath, but once it comes back, you’re good.”
Gronkowski caught only one more pass in the game, a 26-yard gain that brought the Patriots to the Seattle 2-yard line with 1:29 left in the game.
But Gronkowski was the key target on the game-deciding play, a fade pass from Tom Brady in the end zone on fourth down that fell incomplete in the Patriots’ stunning 31-24 loss to the Seahawks.
After the game, Gronkowski did not take umbrage with Thomas on the play.
“Yeah, it was a good, clean hit,” he said. “I have no problem with it. He hit me fair and square. It’s football. You’re going to get laid out eventually.”
Gronkowski missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury and was limited up until Brady’s return in Week 5. Despite the absence, he leads the team with 540 receiving yards this season.