Rob Gronkowski Doesn't Travel With Patriots to Chicago for Week 7

Patriots O Line rounding into shape just in time to counter ferocious Bears

In a 38-31 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at Soldier Field, the Bears came up just short on the scoreboard.

The five-time Pro Bowl tight end missed the game because of ankle and back injuries.

Gronkowski is not at his usual herculean statistical pace, with 26 catches, 405 yards and just one touchdown in six games this season.

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky put his all into a Hail Mary heave, receiver Kevin White went up to catch the football and the Patriots stood him up at the 1-yard line.

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"Just tried to fight and get in", he said.

But when it was over, nobody on the Bears was kidding himself thinking that one yard was so decisive on a contest that they viewed as a litmus test agagainst a perrenial championship contender. Because I do know we have a great feeling of what kind of team we're. And they were pushing and we were pushing, and I'm sure it was, what, probably a half-yard or a yard?

It was the first blocked punt returned for a touchdown by New England since Tedy Bruschi accomplished the feat at Baltimore in 1996. A finish like that doesn't happen often in the National Football League, and the Patriots just have to be relieved that they came out on the right side of the result. It was the 32nd time in his career he led the Patriots to a win after trailing by at least 10 points. The Bears are striving to become a victor, but in some ways, they beat themselves against the Patriots.

"He had a little time back there", Bears S Eddie Jackson acknowledged. The 4-yard loss set up a field goal for the Patriots, who tied the game then at 24-24 in the third quarter.

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Chicago's (not very) special teams got progressively worse from there. With Gronkowski out against the Bears, he came up big-time in a game where they really needed him to be a big-play weapon.

How did New England's game plan change without Gronkowski? Brady was intercepted by Kyle Fuller when FB James Develin couldn't reel in a catchable ball. The important part is that Trubisky didn't make enough plays with his arm, and also made his biggest mistakes that way. "Just go out there and make a play if the ball comes your way".

Although the Patriots had four scoring drives of 64 yards or longer, it was the opening drive of the game and the fourth-quarter, 96-yard drive that hurt the most. The 27-year-old recorded four receptions, including one for 55 yards up the middle in the fourth quarter. But it was just enough to help close things out.

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