A day following the Patriots thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Browns, mixed emotions lingered in the locker room.
The fate of Rob Gronkowski seemed to already be sealed, with the Patriots making it official this afternoon by placing the star tight end on season ending injured reserve with ACL and MCL injuries.
"Everyone's going to have to pick up their game a little bit more and do what we can to help the New England Patriots be successful," stated TE Matthew Mulligan.
Gronkowski's production this season (39 rec, 592 yds, 4 TD in 7 games) will be difficult to replicate, but the Patriots are familiar with the "next man up" mentality.
"It's not who we don't have, like I always say, it's who we do have," insisted DE Chandler Jones.
"We'll work with what we've got and be good with it."
The Patriots will now be reliant on offensive playmakers such as Shane Vereen to help carry the team down this crucial stretch leading into the playoffs.
"To lose a teammate and a friend like Rob, it's horrible," said Vereen, who posted a team record for a running back with 12 receptions for 152 yards in the win on Sunday.
"But as a team, we have to bounce back. I know - and I think we know - that his wish is for us to bounce back as strong as we can."
The Patriots will look to clinch the AFC East title with a win next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.