Hernandez Injury Main Cause of Patriots' Loss to Arizona Cardinals

Frances White@WestEndGirl62Analyst IISeptember 16, 2012

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 24:  Defensive back Ronde Barber #20 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers #20 tackles tight end Aaron Hernendez #81 of the New England Patriots at Raymond James Stadium in a pre-season game August 24, 2012  in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals was supposed to be a done deal before they ever set foot on Gillette Stadium turf. The crowd was pumped and it was the first home game of the 2012 season.

Fantasy owners just knew that they were going to rack up on the points. But, as the old saying goes, the game is played on the field and not on paper.  

It was unfortunate that Aaron Hernandez got hurt in the early part of the game; thus, it threw a wrench in the Patriots' game plan. An already potent Cardinal defense was made even more formidable by the absence of the versatile tight-end. At that point, you think that Josh McDaniels would dial up the running game and give Stevan Ridley more touches.  

At halftime, Ridley had already amassed well over 50 yards and was ready to chew up some more yardage in the second.  Instead,Tom Brady went back to his gun-slinging ways as if Ben Jarvus-Green was still roaming the backfield.  

For some inexplicable reason, Julian Edleman became the featured back when the game screamed for No. 22. Edleman is the more tenured, but it is obvious Stevan was the more productive of the two.  

It is also ironic that a defense that used to be suspect has stood tall for two weeks in a row, and now it is the offense that seems to be off-kilter and disjointed.  

Plus, no one thought that the loss of Hernandez would upset the whole offense because it was Gronkowski who set the record for tight-ends last season. When he got hurt before the Super Bowl, the Patriot offense did not seem as inept.

Gronk, bless his heart, is limited. He plays only one position, but he is great at it. He broke the NFL touchdown record for tight ends last season and Robert Kraft rewarded him handsomely. Kraft reciprocated with Hernandez in the preseason, and from the looks of it, he earned every penny of that $12 million bonus considering how the offense sputtered in his absence.

This still doesn't absolve them of the fact that they neglected a very potent, burgeoning running game. It leaves one wandering what this will do to Ridley's confidence and Bill's trust in McDaniels under pressure.

Yes, Patriots nation is in a state of shock today. This writer included, as this is my first year playing fantasy football and have Hernandez on my roster along with Brady and Ridley.

There is plenty of blame to go around and most of it is centered on the play-calling. The good news is it was only the second game of the year; the bad, we don't know how long New England will be without Aaron Hernandez.