With Rob Gronkowski going down with a re-broken right forearm in the AFC Divsional round, the New England Patriots had to find receiving production from somewhere. Backup Tight End Aaron Hernandez did a solid job replacing the All-Pro however, the result didn’t go the Patriots way.
Not too many teams in the NFL have the luxury of two play making tight ends in fact, I would argue the Patriots have one of the best duos in the history of the game. However, with only one suiting up in the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens the Pats were disadvantaged. While the entire loss can’t be chalked up to offensive insufficiency the inability to find the end-zone more than once on offense has to be discouraging.
I fore-casted a big game for Hernandez due to his uncanny production when the Gronk was out of the equation as he has had his biggest game as the number one guy. On Sunday Hernandez caught a team-high nine balls for 83 yards and zero touchdowns–Hernandez caught three of this five touchdowns while Gronkowski was out in 2012.
Tom Brady was considered a lock in this contest given his 86-15 record at Gillette Stadium since entering the league however, he disappointed with only one touchdown opposed to two interceptions and a QBR of 45.1.
Compared to Wes Welker who dropped two crucial passes Hernandez looked like Jerry Rice although he was unable to get in the end-zone. This game will stick with the Patriots for quite some time but, at age 23 Hernandez should be an X-factor in the NFL for years to come.