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Rob Gronkowski

ICYMI in NFL's Week 12: Gronk injured; Pats lose to Broncos

There was Rob Gronkowski, the NFL's best tight end and Tom Brady's only real receiving threat remaining, getting carted to the locker room, shortly after he writhed on the snow-covered turf, his right leg in pain.

Earlier in the evening, another important member of the New England Patriots, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, departed with a knee injury.

Sure, the immediate impact of New England's 30-24 overtime loss at the Denver Broncos was that it ended the reigning Super Bowl champion's perfect run after a 10-0 start and left the Carolina Panthers as the league's only unbeaten team.

Of more down-the-road significance Sunday night, however, will be the status of the man...