The banged up Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium for Sunday afternoon's regular season home finale against Tennessee and took care of business in the 33-16 win over the Titans.
The victory pushed the Patriots to 12-2 on the season and, by the time the day ended, clinched the team a bye in the playoffs.
But as has seemingly been the case each game for weeks now, the win came with a cost. A team with an already long IR list and injury report saw Danny Amendola (knee), Dont'a Hightower (knee) and Patrick Chung (hip) limp off with injuries that caused the key contributors to sit out the remainder of the game. Other players, including Rob Gronkowksi and Brandon LaFell, seemed to also be dealing with some pain late in the win.
The Boston Globe runs down the list of injuries New England suffered in the win. The Globe game story says the Patriots didn't earn any style points on Sunday, just a victory. Globe columnist Chris Gasper thinks New England treated the Tennessee contest like a practice and will need to be much better moving forward. Practice squad call-up Joey Iosefa and a depleted running back corps stepped up in the victory, says the* Globe's *Ben Volin.
New England defensive lineman Akiem Hicks notched his first career touchdown as the big man has made big plays in recent weeks, with the Globe callling the play one of the funniest of the year. Rob Gronkowski dedicated the win, including the tight end's touchdown, to a recently-deceased friend. Next man up continues to roll to victory in Foxborough, according to the Globe.
The Boston Herald looks at a Patriots defensive front that was back dominating the game against Tennessee, as maybe the most consistent part of the New England team over the last month-plus. Herald columnist Steve Buckley also looks at Gronkowski's emotional performance. Fellow columnist Ron Borges says it's now time for the Patriots to let their injuries heal. The Herald *blog has Tom Brady saying it's "wishful thinking" to expect the New England offense to return to its best in its current state. The *Herald also looks at the impressive performance, yet again, for James White.
The Providence Journal says the banged up Patriots simply just keep soldiering on. The ProJo notes that a now-healthy Jamie Collins has been a star defender in New England while Hightower continues to battle injury. The ProJo also takes a look at a Patriots pass rush that just might be one of the best in the NFL right now.
ESPNBoston.com says David Andrews once again stepped in and stepped up to replace Bryan Stork, who missed Sunday's game for personal reasons. ESPNBoston.com also looks at how the current front seven might be conjuring up comparisons to the fronts of 2003-04 that were the backbone of back-to-back championship defenses. Just up from the practice squad, the undrafted rookie back Iosefa had the highlight of the day when he ran over a Titans defender in the victory.
WEEI.com says the understudies and unheralded players stole the show in the Sunday afternoon win. WEEI.com also looks at how the Patriots should play the final two games considering the team's health situation. WEEI.com passes along Brady talking about his health for Sunday's win after he'd missed practice on Friday due to illness.
CSNNE.com says that despite the final score, Sunday's win over the Titans was not as easy as it may have looked. CSNNE.com notes that Hicks has literally been a gift from the Saints. The site also passes along its bests and worsts from the bye-clinching Patriots win.
MassLive.com wonders if the Patriots could still sign veteran free agent Steven Jackson as the team could still use help in the backfield.
Iosefa told NESN.com that it felt good to hit somebody other than his Patriots teammates on the practice field.
ESPN.com says both the Patriots and Panthers face the question of whether or not to rest players in the next two weeks.