Rob Gronkowski Injury Latest: Will Patriots Tight End Face Eagles in Super Bowl 52?

The New England Patriots won the battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars to set up a Super Bowl 52 date against the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 4.

Rob Gronkowski may have lost the war.

The Patriots' totemic tight end took a hard helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church late in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Gronkowski was "wobbly" when he rose to his feet, according to ESPN, but walked to the locker room without assistance. Church, the former Dallas Cowboy, was assessed an unnecessary roughness penalty of 15 yards on the play.

I feel terrible for Rob Gronkowski but his balance problems were some of the clearest #concussion signs you will ever see. He is done for the day, unless the Patriots and #NFL only want to talk about the concussion protocol for the next week. Here is the hit:

— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) January 21, 2018

The Patriots ruled Gronkowski out for the game after he underwent a concussion assessment. Dwayne Allen, the backup tight end, stepped in for the 28-year-old star.

Rob Gronkowski (head) has been downgraded to out. #JAXvsNE

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 21, 2018

"If you go low, you're a dirty player. If you go high, it's unsportsmanlike conduct. It's tough," Church told ESPN after the game. Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback, defended the 29-year-old safety on Twitter. " The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee", Sherman tweeted.

The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee. If he would have just hit him low most ppl would calm him dirty. So there is nothing he can do to make everyone happy and do his job. Unless you think he should let him catch

— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 21, 2018

With two weeks before the Super Bowl in Minnesota, Gronkowski at least has more time than he would during the regular season in which to recover. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported after the game: "Rob Gronkowski is in the concussion protocol. There's optimism Gronk will be cleared by the Super Bowl, according to a source."

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels turned to his wide receivers after Gronkowski was ruled out for the second half. Brandin Cooks had six receptions for 100 yards, while Danny Amendola caught seven balls for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Patriots owner Robert Kraft praised the Patriots' effort after Gronkowski went down. " 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," Kraft said.

Gronkowski will have to pass the NFL's return-to-play protocols before he can be cleared for Super Bowl 52.