The New England Patriots finished the regular season with a victory over the Miami Dolphins and earned a first round playoff bye, but Week 17 was a mixed bag on the injury front as New England welcomed back Rob Gronkowski but saw Rob Ninkovich go down.
Gronkowski had missed the last five weeks after suffering a broken forearm in Week 11 while blocking. The playmaking tight end made just two catches in his return but made them count, going for 42 yards and a touchdown.
The injury blow to Ninkovich came in the second quarter when he suffered a hip injury and he needed help getting to the sideline after staying down on the field in pain. The defensive end has recorded eight sacks and forced five fumbles this season. His status going forward is still unknown since he will be evaluated further today.
The Wild Card bye week could be beneficial to help the Patriots get players like Ninkovich and some of those who were inactive for Week 17 healthy before beginning their playoff run. New England's first postseason game will come on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 4:30 p.m. ET against the highest remaining AFC team after the Wild Card games.