New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski ruled out after vicious hit in AFC title game

Jacksonville Jaguars' Barry Church flagged for helmet-to-helmet hit on Gronk

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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski catches a pass before leaving the AFC title game after a helmet-to-helmet hit. (USA Today Sports)

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was knocked out in the first half of the AFC championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after taking a vicious hit. He was ruled out of the game at the start of the fourth quarter with what was deemed a head injury.

Jaguars safety Barry Church hit Gronkowski with a helmet-to-helmet shot with 1:28 left in the second quarter, as Tom Brady tried to find Gronk deep down the right seam as the Jaguars led at the time, 14-3.

Church was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski walked off the field slowly — and with assistance. The Patriots would go on to score a touchdown on the drive when Gronkowski left the game, cutting the lead to 14-10, which was the halftime score.

Gronkowski never emerged from the locker room in the second half after he was listed as questionable to return, entered into the concussion protocol. Dwayne Allen took Gronkowski's place on offense on the Patriots' first series of the third quarter.

Gronkowski became the NFL's all-time leader in postseason receiving yards by a tight end in the first half. He caught one pass for 21 yards on three Brady targets.