The New England Patriots offense played a sloppy game during the team's 27-20 loss at the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. The unit gained a season-low 248 yards, turned the football over twice and – for the first time since 1991 – failed to convert even a single third down attempt. In short: It was an uncharacteristically bad performance by one of the NFL's most potent offenses.
However, the unit receives a much-needed boost – at least judged by yesterday's performance – today: Tight end and habitual nightmare for defensive coordinators Rob Gronkowski will be back after missing the game in Miami due to a one-game suspension. The 28-year old is eligible to be activated to the active roster today; New England will have to make a corresponding move.
Gronkowski, who caught a team-high 55 passes this season and is also tied for the team-lead with seven touchdowns scored, was suspended after a cheap-shot during last week's win over the Buffalo Bills. Yesterday, New England clearly missed the big play ability and matchup advantages the veteran provides in both the passing and the running game.
With the league's best tight end back in the fold, the Patriots offense immediately gains more quality at its skill positions – just in time for the showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game that might very well determine who gets homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. In five career games against the Steelers, Gronkowski averages six catches, 99.2 yards and 1.6 touchdowns.