FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of a 24-20 AFC Championship Game victory with a concussion after he took a big helmet-to-helmet hit from Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church late in the second quarter Sunday.
Gronkowski was wobbly as he got to his feet but walked to the locker room under his own power. He remained there and was officially ruled out at the start of the fourth quarter.
Church was penalized for unnecessary roughness, as his helmet made contact with Gronkowski's, although Church initially appeared to be leading with his shoulder.
"If you go low, you're a dirty player. If you go high, it's unsportsmanlike conduct. It's tough," Church said following the game.
When reporters entered the locker room after the game, Gronkowski was not present.
He had been part of the Patriots' first 26 offensive snaps of the game. No. 2 tight end Dwayne Allen stepped into his role at the end of the second quarter.
Quarterback Tom Brady credited offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with making adjustments after Gronkowski went out.
"Josh did such a great job of figuring out what we needed to do and how we needed to get it done, and he made it happen," said Brady, who had targeted Gronkowski three times in the game. "So it's hard when you lose such a critical part of your team and offense, and hopefully he's OK. It was a tough shot he took, and he's as tough as they come. Hopefully, he feels better soon."
Owner Robert Kraft noted that the team's ability to overcome Gronkowski's absence was reflective of its toughness.
"This team, having Gronk go out and having [Danny] Amendola step up like that; Dion Lewis made that run at the end of the game after he had the only turnover in the game, just mental toughness is great," he said.
Added Lewis: "Gronk is a big part of our team, a big part of our offense, everybody knows that. Other guys stepped up, Amendola is a beast. To see how he played, everyone played so hard. I am just happy to be a part of it."