Posted Tue Dec 11th by Jon Heath
Big Pete provides yet another guest piece. Expect Pete to officially join the BT staff in the coming days…
The 700 lb purple elephant is in the room this week around Denver. After witnessing the thorough thrashing that went down in New England against a then 11-1 Houston Texans team, people are wondering, “can the Broncos beat the Patriots?” and “what seed should the Broncos hope for to avoid the inevitable Broncos/Patriots showdown in the playoffs?” Well my friends, I’m here to talk “Can the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots”, week 14 edition.
Before we know where we can go, we must first know where we’ve been. We’ve been to Foxboro already. Yes, our 8 game winning streak started after our week 5 loss to the Patriots. However, while the Patriots seem to be the same team, we are much, much different. Lets take a closer look shall we?
In week 5, Joe Mays and Tracy Porter were still starting for us. With them playing, our defense flat out stunk. We also didn’t have Trindon Holliday yet, so our special teams were more special Ed than anything. Just the week before, we played LIGHTS OUT defense. Sure, it was only against the lowly Raiders, but what couldn’t be overlooked in my mind was that Joe Mays didn’t play, and Porter was limited… Both played in the Patriots game.
Even with our defense operating with the “wrong” set of players, we managed to show up at times in this game. A quick recap goes something like this… “the Patriots didn’t beat us, we beat us”, the end.
A closer look at this game shows that in the 1st Quarter, Manning throws a deep pass to DT, who catches it, then eventually fumbles at the 10 on what is an easy TD or 1st and goal and 7-0 lead. A 7-0 lead can change the entire scope of the game, yet here we are, in the midst of the “Demaryious Thomas fumble era”. The first half ends with the Patriots up 17-0.
Enter the 2nd half…. In the 3rd Quarter, Manning loses a fumble. The players seemed confused, as it seems like nobody notices that the ball is on the ground before a patriot player scoops it up. This is turnover number 2 that never should have happened. Naturally, the Patriots capitalized yet again.
Come the 4th Quarter, we are down 24-14. There is 13 minutes left with the Broncos driving to midfield. We find ourselves in a pivotal 4th and 1, and miraculously, John Fox decides to go for it. I LOVE this call as long as we don’t run McGahee up the middle. As luck would have it, Manning fakes the handoff (with the entire Patriots’ defense biting on the fake) and then tosses a pass that everybody on this planet but Willis McGahee can catch. Turnover on downs! Patriots extend lead to 31-14.
We now find ourselves up against a Patriots team smelling blood. We know they are not letting up, as they go for it on 4th down with 8 minutes to go. I know there has been lots of talk about us making the score closer than it should have been because of garbage time scoring, but with the Patriots’ penchant for running up scores coupled with them going for it on 4th down, can we please put the “they were just running out the clock” talk to bed? Thank you!
With 7 minutes left in the game, Manning throws his 3rd TD of the night and makes the score a much more respectable 21-31. We again stop the Patriots and get the ball back. We drive all the way to the 7 yard line and oops, McGahee fumbles. Game, Set, Match!
All in all, we committed 3 horrendous turnovers, and McGahee drops a crucial 4th and 1 pass that Knowshon easily catches last week. This game was more about the Broncos beating themselves (with the Patriots capitalizing on turnovers) than the Patriots flat out dominating the Broncos.
So, can the Broncos beat the Patriots today? We’ll go into that tomorrow for part 2 of this week’s edition of “Can the Broncos beat the Patriots?”