The question will continue to be asked.
“Can the New England Patriots win without Rob Gronkowski?”
For the second straight week, Tom Brady once again answered that question with a resounding, “Yes we can.”
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Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are now 11-2 as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with three games left to play in the regular season.
Some will still question the offense without Gronkowski when the Pats head to Denver this coming Sunday, but if they proved anything on Monday night, it’s that Brady still has plenty of weapons in his arsenal.
The Ravens entered this game as one of the best defenses in football. I told you last week that they'd be the toughest potential playoff opponent for the Patriots. And yet, here we are, without Gronkowski — and even without Danny Amendola — talking about how Brady had 400-plus passing yards with four different receivers finishing the game with at least 70 receiving yards.
Chris Hogan had a game-high 129 receiving yards while catching five passes, including a 79-yard touchdown pass from Brady up the middle with 6:18 left to play in the game. It was an immediate response to a Baltimore field goal with 6:35 left to play, that cut New England’s lead to 23-20.
Brady and Hogan saw something in the Ravens’ secondary, and connected on the first play of the drive to put the Patriots up 30-20.
James White had three receptions for 81 yards. Julian Edelman had seven receptions for 73 yards. Martellus Bennett had four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. And Malcolm Mitchell had four receptions for 41 yards and touchdown.
On paper, the Patriots’ offense is much less dangerous right now. And while everybody would prefer to have Gronkowski — and Amendola — healthy, nobody can deny that Brady just lit up one of the league’s best defenses with the weapons he still has.
The offensive line deserves a whole lot of credit for that success as well. But that doesn’t take away from the job Brady was able to do, on a night in which it looked like his own special teams had money on the Ravens in the second half.
But that’s for another day.
Right now, the focus should be on the statement that Brady made Monday night, against one of the best defenses in football. And that’s, yes, the Patriots do have enough offensive weapons to win without Gronkowski.
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