- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots had a celebratory locker room after beating the Houston Texans, 41-28, Sunday night. However, the season-ending arm injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski did somewhat dampen the mood.
Here are various player reactions from the Patriots on losing their Pro Bowl tight end for the remainder of the playoffs:
Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez: "It’s hard to replace a player like him because he’s a freak of nature. Everyone has to step up and everyone has to keep making plays so we can keep it rolling."
Patriots receiver Wes Welker: “I think we’ve shown that guys can step up and play that role. Everybody kind of upped their game and knows that we’ve got to step up.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick: “[Michael Hoomanwanui] did a great job, as he’s been doing for the last month. These kinds of games, you never really know when the dial spins, where it’s going to wind up, who it’s going to end up on.”
Hoomanawanui: “It was a great team effort. Whether it was guys going down and another one stepping in, our job (entails) some guy going down and the next guy being able to step in and perform.”
The Patriots were 4-1 in games Gronkowski missed this season. They got plenty of practice playing without Gronkowski during the regular season -- and it showed Sunday against Houston. New England played more than three quarters without Gronkowski and the offense did not miss a beat. The Patriots need more of that next weekend in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens.