Tight end Rob Gronkowski's NFL season is over after the New England Patriots placed him on injured reserve on Saturday one day after he underwent surgery in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk in his back.
New England (9-2), which currently has the inside track on the No.1 playoff seed in the AFC, had announced on Thursday that they would wait to receive the results of the surgery before making a final determination on Gronkowski's status.
Initial estimates prior to the procedure listed a recovery timetable of two months, leaving open the slight possibility of Gronkowski being available should the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl.
Losing Gronkowski robs New England quarterback Tom Brady of his favourite receiving option.
The team was unable to put Gronkowski on the injury/designation to return list, having already used that slot on rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was activated on Wednesday.
In his seventh season with the Patriots, Gronkowski set a franchise record with his 69th touchdown against Buffalo on October 30
He registered multiple double-digit touchdown receptions in five of his seven seasons, including a career-best 17 in 2011.