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Rob Gronkowski breaks left forearm, out for playoffs

The New England Patriots' 41-28 divisional-round win over the Houston Texans on Sunday night came with a heavy price.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss the remainder of the playoffs after breaking his forearm again, a source apprised of the player's injury told's Albert Breer. ProFootballTalk first reported the injury, which will require surgery.'s Ian Rapoport reported that Gronkowski told friends earlier in the week that he wasn't comfortable with his forearm, which he first broke during a Nov. 18 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Gronkowski had surgery after that injury and didn't return until the Patriots' Dec. 30 regular-season finale.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick contended after Sunday's game that Gronkowski wouldn't have played had he been too hurt to do so.

Gronkowski's injury is a difficult blow for a Patriots team that also lost running back Danny Woodhead (thumb) and defensive end Chandler Jones (ankle) on Sunday. Both players were called questionable to return, but they never saw the field again.

Gronkowski's absence will be the most difficult to overcome. He is the second most valuable player on the Patriots' offense because of his ferocious blocking and receiving ability. Combined with fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski presents matchup nightmares for opponents.

Losing the game's best tight end would be a crippling blow to most squads, but it's not like the Patriots' offense struggled without him earlier in the season. They averaged 36 points per game -- just above their season average -- in the five contests Gronkowski missed.

With Gronkowski out, Hernandez, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd become even more important parts of the Patriots' offense. If Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going to win their fourth Super Bowl title, it will happen without the president of Gronk Nation.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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