FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
On Sunday night, two Boston athletes left games late with injuries when the game was all but finished.
Rob Gronkowski fractured his forearm while blocking on an extra point when the Patriots were already up 58-24. Bill Belichick hadn’t taken his starters out of the game yet with four minutes remaining and the game completely out of reach for the Colts. Belichick always uses his starters on special teams, but risking Gronkowski on a meaningless play has been looked down upon by many New England fans. Some fans have also questioned why the Patriots were running up the score late in the game, but by the end, the Patriots were mostly running the ball.
Paul Pierce injured his ankle the same night with three minutes remaining in a game that the Pistons were winning 96-77. Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry were in the game at the same time, though Doc Rivers had removed Kevin Garnett. While freak injuries can happen at any time, the longer players stay in during meaningless scenarios, the more risk there is.
Gronkowski’s diagnosis is far more severe than Pierce’s, though Pierce is the older player who’s more likely to break down at this point in their careers. Gronk will be out for 4-6 weeks, while Pierce is day to day with a rolled ankle.
Gronkowski is one of the best blockers on the Patriots, and some may view Belichick’s decision as wise. There could be more injury risk if a player busts through a blown block, than simply expecting an injury for a player doing an every day task, like blocking. Gronk’s injury truly was a freak occurrence, as injuries rarely occur on extra point attempts.
For the Celtics, it seemed the game was completely out of reach, and it may be wise to rest your older players more in general, and especially when the game is out of hand. Of course, Pierce won’t miss nearly as much time as Gronk.
So who do you think made the more questionable decision? Should Belichick have replaced Gronkowski with one of the Patriots’ many other tight ends? Or should Rivers be resting his older players, especially late in blow outs?
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