Posted Sat Jan 14th by Josh Temple
Right from the get go the Divisional Round match up started out ugly for Denver, especially it’s secondary. Tom Brady came out of the gate with a 7 yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and finished with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception. The one INT was a bright spot for the Broncos defense with Quinton Carter being in the right place at the right time. Tebow and McGahee were able to march down a shortened field and punch it in with a rugby scrum that turned chippy.
Denver couldn’t capitalize on it’s next possession before half time to try and cut the Patriot lead down from 21-7 and the New England offense was able to strike twice before the break sucking the momentum out of the Broncos’ decision to defer until the 2nd half. The media will surely question John Fox and his decision to let Tom Brady have the ball right out of the gate. The Broncos were never able to find their feet.
These didn’t look like the solid unit that played Pittsburgh hard for 4 quarters last week. They were hesitant and sloppy to tackle, letting 4 yard catches turn into 30 yard game changers. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen didn’t have an answer one month later for the incredible tight end duo of Gronkowski and Hernandez. The two gouged the Broncos up and down the field a month later. The Pats also used Hernandez as a half-back giving the Denver D fits much to the frustration of the orange and blue faithful. A lot of credit should be given to New England’s defense. They were by for the most effective unit against the Denver option, stifling Tebow, Johnson, Royal, and McGahee. Regular viewers of this offense are used to seeing the option hit a wall but break out eventually, it never came tonight.
One of the first tasks of the offseason needs to be working on Orlando Franklin’s pass blocking. The rookie right tackle struggled early and often with the pass rush and different blitz schemes. The Pats saw something on tape, most likely the Lions game earlier in the year and used it to exploit the right side of the offensive line. Denver had issues in the trenches most of the night, especially in pass blocking. The frustration became visible in Tebow’s face late in the game. Extended plays turned into huge losses rather than conversions.
However one of the said traits of a John Fox led team is that they will not give up until the final whistle. The Broncos cleaned up in the 4th quarter, and started to slow Brady’s passing attack. The offense drove to inside the 5 but the sloppy blocking came back to haunt them again as Tebow fought to find time to pass. Von Miller started a shoving match with Matt Light and it exploded into a sideline pile up when Robert Ayers threw himself into the fray. Clearly some boil over with Ayers going after Pat’s safety Patrick Chung who had hit and nearly injured Willis McGahee late out of bounds a few minutes earlier. Ugly, and what Shannon Sharpe called classless, this was still a young team showing some fire no matter how badly they were beat.
Demaryius Thomas quietly had another solid game other than a drop on a crucial 3rd down conversion early in the game. Bay-Bay finished with 6 receptions for 93 yards. McGahee was able to pound the ball fairly well, making some tough 4, 5, and 7 yard gains. However it was too much for “Fox Ball” to work when the opposing quarterback is breaking NFL playoff passing records on you. McGahee finished with 76 yards and a touchdown.
In summary this was a young team that brought a knife to a gun fight. Brady and company assembled itself into a juggernaut and it was too much for Denver to keep up. Even if the team had played a perfect game with 100% effort much akin to the Steeler victory it still may have not been enough. With the safety position worn as thin as filo dough a Hall of Fame QB will make easy work of the passing game. Brady victimized backup David Bruton all night and things didn’t get easier when rookie Rahim Moore stepped in after another injury hit the unit. Something could be said about Denver’s pass rush not getting to Brady all night. However it should be argued that it wouldn’t matter as he is one of the best at laying the ball into a hole left by a blitz. Rush him and open the big play or sit back and let him throw darts into tight spaces. Pick your poison. There is much to be learned in this loss and over-achieving season for a team that went from 4-10 to defeating the defending AFC champions in the playoffs. Hold your heads high and see you in the off-season Bronco fans.