In Week 14, in a Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins, the football world watched, as the Patriots, who were without Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, struggled to navigate their way through the Dolphins’ defense.
Edelman had been lost to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, and Gronkowski was serving a one-game suspension for his dirty hit the week before on Buffalo Bills cornerback, Tre’Davious White.
In the loss, Tom Brady threw two interceptions and finished the game with a quarterback rating of 35. Smelling blood in the water, his counterpart, the enigmatic Jay Cutler, played with more emotion than he had displayed throughout his entire NFL career, and doubled Brady’s quarterback rating while throwing three touchdown passes en route to victory.
The football world had already seen what New England’s offense looked like without both Gronkowski and Edelman, and had come to the consensus that the Patriots could win without one of them, but not without both of them.
In Sunday’s AFC Championship game, Brady, who according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, has a career quarterback rating of 50 in games without Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, appeared to be bothered more by the absence of his two favorite targets than by his injured right thumb or Jacksonville’s elite defense.
That is until Brady delivered a pair of touchdown passes to Danny Amendola, once again pulling the Patriots out of the fire and proving that as difficult as it might be for New England to play without Gronkowski and Edelman, even then, you can’t count them out.