Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/30/12
FOXBORO, Mass. — Christmas came a few days late for the Patriots this year, but Tom Brady‘s fine with that as long as it mean his present came in the form of a first-round bye. “Yeah, it was kind of a late Christmas present,” Brady said with a smile after Sunday’s game, “So we accept.” Santa wasn’t the one delivering the gift at Gillette Stadium on Sunday — that honor would go to Andrew Luck and the folks out in Indianapolis — but all of the pieces still fell into place in the Patriots’ playoff puzzle. The Colts took care of the Houston Texans during the early set of games, opening the window of possibility for a bye week, and the Patriots took care of their business with a 28-0 win over the Dolphins. Now, they’ll have two weeks to prepare for their next big challenge, which is just what the doctor ordered — literally. The Patriots were ailing over the past few weeks, and with a bye week in tow they’ll actually be able to rest, relax and rehab in preparation of the playoffs. Rob Gronkowski was back on the playing field for the first time in six weeks, although in a limited role, and could use some more time to get back fully. Brandon Spikes played just a handful of snaps a week after missing the Jaguars’ game. Aqib Talib was active but didn’t see the field, and Alfonzo Dennard and Marquice Cole were left off the active roster altogether. So, the Patriots, as much any team around the NFL, needed some extra time to recover. The week off offers those players an opportunity to get healthy in time for postseason play and gives the team as a whole a chance to reevaluate and fix any and all of their mistakes. That reassessment period is huge in the minds of the Patriots’ players too. “I think it gives you a chance to really focus on whatever you need to focus on,” Devin McCourty said after the game. “Especially a bye week like this where we won’t know who we’re playing, it gives us a chance to really focus on ourselves and try to improve in that week.” Improvement is huge heading into the postseason, especially for a team that’s struggled to close out games all season long. Health may be even more important, though. Gronk’s return on Sunday helped spark the shutout win, but the playoffs will likely be much more competitive, and they’ll need a full house to overcome some of the challenges ahead. So, the extra week of rest should allow Dennard, Spikes, Talib and others to return to action, which can only serve to help the Patriots in their Super Bowl quest — and that would be the ultimate Christmas gift. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Goran Dragic gets eight stitches on mouth, returns to game

Hugh Freeze on Tunsil situation: 'I know nothing'

Did father's offensive Twitter account affect Connor Cook's draft stock?

Jared Goff might be only rookie quarterback to start Week 1

White Sox send David Ortiz off with box of cigars

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

49ers players laud Chip Kelly’s ‘genius’ offense

Cubs celebrate Cinco De Mayo with clubhouse mariachi band

Why would the Philadelphia Eagles keep Sam Bradford?

Steve Kerr: Steph Curry probably out for Game 3 against Blazers

Tyronn Lue hits back at Charles Barkley over comments

Redskins' lock up TE Reed for five-years and $50 million

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh dabs after hitting softball homer off a tee

Patriots rookie QB Jacoby Brissett to negotiate contract himself

Gabrielle Union continues to question referees

Marc-Andre Fleury supportive of Matt Murray starting

5-star QB Tate Martell posts recruiting update

WATCH: Kyle Lowry ignores security guard's fist bump attempt

Colorado Senate kills bill to make 'Mile High' legal name of Broncos stadium

Recruit says he decommitted from Ohio State because Urban Meyer did not recognize him

Report: Joe Paterno first heard of Sandusky's child abuse in 1976

Seahawks officially place Marshawn Lynch on retired list

Ezekiel Eliiott's Cowboys' jersey is the best-selling rookie jersey

Before becoming world champ Canelo Alvarez sold Popsicles

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

How are the Warriors winning without Stephen Curry?

QUIZ: Name every player in MLB to pitch a perfect game

Dangerous hits spotlighted in Round 2 of the NHL playoffs

QUIZ: Name every Triple A Minor League Baseball team

Most exciting games of the 2016 NBA playoffs so far

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker