New England Patriots’ 24-20 loss shows how much they miss Rob Gronkowski

Anwar S Richardson

New England Patriots standout Rob Gronkowski is arguably one of the NFL’s best tight ends.

He is quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite target. Gronkowski is the difference-maker in New England’s offense. He has the ability to put New England's offense on his back.

Basically, now would be a great time for New England to stop acting like it does not need him to succeed.

New England faced Miami without Gronkowski, who was recently placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury. Brady completed 34-of-55 passes for two touchdowns and one interception, however, Gronkowski’s presence was missed during New England’s 24-20 loss. He was especially missed at the end.

New England trailed by four points and took over on its own 20-yard line with 1:15 remaining, and Brady marched his team down to Miami’s 19-yard line. The red zone is where Gronkowski takes over. But he isn't an option anymore.

Instead, Brady threw a pass to Danny Amendola that was dropped in the end zone. New England advanced five yards due to an offside penalty, but Brady’s second-down pass to Julian Edelman went off the receiver’s finger tips. Brady attempted a pass Michael Hoomanawanui – who was playing in Gronkowski's spot – but he was covered on that play.

Then the game ended when Brady threw an interception to Michael Thomas. You have to imagine that Gronkowski would have made a difference on one of those four downs.

Even though New England was 5-1 without Gronkowski earlier this season, three of those wins were against the New York Jets, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. New England failed to score a touchdown during a 13-6 loss against Cincinnati during that stretch.

New England was poised to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win on Sunday, but blew that opportunity. Now the Denver Broncos can get the No. 1 seed by winning their final two games. Also, the Bengals can knock the Patriots to the No. 3 seed and steal their first-round bye by winning out.

It is hard to win without Gronkowski. The Patriots just aren't the same without him.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!