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Published on 12/11/2012 at Tue Dec 11 19:24.
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(Photo: Stew Milne, US Presswire)

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?”

  • Doom92

    Nice article Pete… Here a couple points that I’d make, certainly not to down us because we are very much better now than we were then. First I have to disagree that the Pats are the same. They are different as well. They have lost one of thier best weapons and are STILL rolling teams over with ease and there D is MUCH better than it was in week 5. We are better and so are they. I’d give us the edge on growing more and becoming “better” as you do.

    The Pats ARE NOT a team to lay down or let up AT ALL. But we are! This is exactly what I have griped about the last few weeks, as you know. I don’t think we do not go for the kill or whatever you want to call it because we can’t, I think it is because we are afraid. Yes afraid! Afraid to turn the ball over, afraid to let the other team back on it. In all of these last 3 games against the Bolts, Chefs and Traiders we had opportunity to practice “putting then away” and laid down instead. This will be our down fall in the playoffs. Now when we need to “put them away” we will not have had that behind us.

    I have adamantly spoke out about this each week. Simply put I do not think we have the killer instincts that say the pats have. So no, I’m with you on that Pete, Those were for sure NOT garbage yards at the end of that one.
    Again nice to see you with an article buddy…

  • Pete Baron

    Thanks my man. And yeah, I have been screaming the same thing about putting teams away like you have. We need to learn how to do this, cause if we have a comfy lead and then a team gets hot and comes back, will we be able to turn it back on and win the game? Or will we let it slip away because we’ve been in “Prevent Offense” mode for an entire half? It scares the shit out of me! Also, remember that last year, the Patriots rolled us with Hernandez, not Gronk, so I’m not weighing his injury into how the Patriots are performing. He seems to be yet another talented cog in their system, completely interchangeable with Hernandez. That’s kinda why I said they are the same. But great follow up! We always end up agreeing. lol

  • Speer999

    Right, the problem isn’t with Gronk or Hernandez, it’s Gronk AND Hernandez.

  • Speer999

    Once Denver learns how turn red zone conversions into touchdowns, it’s Lights Out AFC!!! It seems we have fixed our major issues from earlier in the season, turnovers, and dropped passes (mostly fixed). Settling for field goals is living to close to the edge and will lose 90%+ of the time to the Pats. O yeah! Manning needs to stop throwing interceptions, but for the most part, he’s a lot better from game 2. You can’t really make mistakes against the Patriots. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Doom92

    Good points Speer. I think that Peyton tossing INT’s is like when Elway did, yeah it happens but you know after he can come in and toss TD’s right after not even remembering the picks. With this team I think fumbles hurt more than the INT’s.

    I also agree that we seem to have “fixed” some things but still don’t move in for the “Kill”. It’s like a Boxer (love boxing) that thinks he has it in the bag and coasts for the 11th and 12th and loses the fight.

    Like Pete points out below, we need to learn how to push that dagger in and not just win but “beat” them. No one will be afraid of a team that coasts but you are if they “put teams away”. It’s as much mental as it is actually playing. Part of why the Pats can win is because the strike fear into opposing teams, we lack that “scare them” element.

    You are absolutely correct in that we have got to score TD’s in the red zone without question. The problem I wonder is that if we had would we have laid down even sooner than we did???

  • Doom92

    Yes it seems we do. Even when our opinions are a little different. Speer is correct below that we had the double whammy in week 5; we got them both. It’s like a double barrel VS a single.

    I love your calling it the “Prevent Offense” I have never heard that before and while I hate it, it’s still right on the nail head. Your point of not being able to turn it back on is also dead on. What I’m trying to convey is that like the Pats & Giants (sometimes) if you never turn it off you don’t have to turn it “back on”. Just leave it on and kick their teeth in…lol. Sorry but that is how I see it.

    When I coached I never let up, was accused of running the score up? Sure but I can live with that better than I can live with loosing because I didn’t move in for the kill ;-).

  • karen labanca

    I think it is possible must play close to perfect game in all areas.

  • chevss454 Will S.

    “…while the Patriots seem to be the same team”? This is flat out wrong, particularly on D. The Pats front 7 was never an issue so I’ll speak on the DBs. The Pats D backfield is completely remodeled in terms of scheme and personnel since wk 5. Ss Pat Chung and Steve Gregory were playing horribly and Chung has been permanently replaced with Devin McCourty. McCourty is doing a fantastic job. Gregory still isn’t perfect but at least he’s doing his job. The addition of Aqib Talib at CB has solidified the CB position. He’s big, strong and fast. He allows the Pats to play man press instead of that awful Tampa 2 zone which Manning eats alive. Dennard on the other side is almost a clone of Talib except he’s more powerfully built. Dennard is a rookie but he plays tight coverage like a veteran. You may have noticed both played Andre Johnson in single man press Monday night and were equally effective. (Dennard took him after Talib went down with a minor injury) Kyle Arrington, who played CB wk 5 has moved to slot coverage which is his best position. You can see the addition of Talib has had a domino effect and completely revamped the Pats’ defensive backfield in terms of personnel and scheme. When you see stats of the Pats pass coverage, heavy weighting should be given to games played after wk 12.


  • Pete Baron

    I’ll make sure to throw that into perspective for part 2. Thanks my man.

  • Pete Baron

    I think that although they did make moves and have tightened up (as you showed with the Andre Johnson example), they still are incredibly weak against the stuff inside of 10 yards. Schaub could have chewed them up had he just taken what was given. But nope, he decided that he wanted to air it out, much to his team’s demise. Manning will take what is given, and right when the Pats relax on the outside, BOOM, Demaryious Thomas for a 60 yard TD.

  • areferee

    Any team aspiring to “The Big Game”, must be able to defeat the finest teams in their conference. Based purely on the record, that means such teams as Houston and the Patriots.

    Splitting a “double-header” with them in 2012 is no less likely than splitting two games with our own Division rivals in any given year, so don’t even consider what happened in the earlier games against these two opponents.

    It is never what we did last time, but what we are capable of doing THIS time. We all know we are a better team than we were in week 5 and that we are on a winning streak. If we dare to think of ourselves playing in a game with Roman numerals, then we have to beat the best. It will clearly take a great performance from all three teams on the roster… but isn’t that what we expect?

    Brady, Belichick and the Boy Wonder all lace up their shoes the same way we do. The purity of this game that we love dictates that it will all happen out on the field and the better team ON THAT DAY will prevail.

    If we get to that game this year, it will be because we deserve to be there and we are fully capable of winning. But like they always say, don’t forget the “next” guy.

    That is Baltimore. First things first.

    Let’s play like a champion THIS week and worry about some other game later.

  • Michael Gibbons

    Comparing ou special teams… To special education…. Come on broncotalk get you editing straight. Some people in this world actually have actually had the unfortunate event of a family member or someone close to the family being BORN(as completely uncontrollable to them) with mental challenges or illness. But here it is used as a joke what’s next the racist and gay jokes on this forum.

  • Pete Baron

    Gronk AND Hernandez give me nightmares.

  • herc_rock

    Lighten up, francis.

  • Pete Baron

    Racism and gay jokes are far from saying special Ed. Censoring out special Ed is kinda extreme, don’t you think? I mean, at least we use the term special Ed instead of retarded, right? I think retarded is insulting, while saying special Ed is just another adjective to describe poor performance (which is quite literally correct). Maybe it’s just me. I certainly don’t set out to offend people, but man, sometimes PC can go too far.

  • MeOMy

    I would have to agree with you that NE is not the same team. Living in NE I get to watch the Pats every week. Since week 8 they are a different team. Since week 11 I’ve seen their D really step it up.

    I think they are beatable but I would give the edge to NE.

  • Pete Baron

    I completely agree with you.
    I’m also curious if we are holding back some stuff so that we have fresh wrinkles for the playoffs?

  • stuckinraiderland

    Good article, but for now I’m going to try not to think about heading to Foxboro, okay? I’m just going to think about winning out and pull hard for the 49ers, Jaguars and Dolphins. Because no matter how you put it, going to Foxboro still sounds… terrible. Just terrible. And now, my sister is probably going to marry a die-hard, life-long Patriots fan, which doesn’t help matters one bit. Nice guy. But still a Patriots fan, damn it. So let’s stay out of Foxboro, please!

  • stuckinraiderland

    I kinda doubt we’re holding anything back on the offensive end… we’ve just been trying to get in sync, I’d be stunned if we were also holding back material. But with Peyton, you can’t say it’s impossible. That said, any offense with Peyton at QB doesn’t have to worry as much about holding back material because it’s all about the incredible ability to adjust on the fly to the defense and take what it gives you. You’re not focused on surprising them as much as you’re focused on changing it up to take advantage of their game plan.

  • Pete Baron

    That’s fair. Instead of saying we’re holding back, I should say that we probably have base offensive stuff that we’ll use against everybody, and then specific stuff to use against other teams. Now, depending on who that team is, the specific stuff might be more elaborate or risky, or “go for the knockout blow” than others. I mean, I bet we take more big play shots against the Ravens than we will against the Browns. It isn’t because the Browns are more capable at stopping them, but it might just be that we simply don’t have to, whereas we might have to against the Ravens. Of course, the converse to that is also a possibility in that we refuse to take risks vs the Ravens, cause risks can get you beat, whereas we might take them against the Browns because we’ll know that we can overcome any failed attempts.

  • stuckinraiderland

    In that sense I’d bet you’re right. Peyton just strikes me as a total maniac in preparation, so I’m sure his adjustments are very specific. If someone told me he changed plays at the line of scrimmage based on information gathered by paying someone to go through the opposing safeties’ garbage from the previous week, I’d believe it. “Hmm. Polamalu ate a lot of red sauce on his pasta this week, and he just made a big car payment. I’ll go with an underneath route here, then a fly route left.”

  • Pete Baron

    lmao. That shit is HILARIOUS!!!

  • Pete Baron

    All the more reason to read part 2 when they post it

  • Pete Baron

    Ouch! I feel for you man.

  • Grog

    Another thing you should look at is Manning’s record against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. If the game is in Foxborough, look out. In 10 career games there, Peyton Manning has a 2-8 record, while throwing 18 TD’s and 22 interceptions. Also, the Pats offense, while very good against a strong Houston team, will only get stronger when they get Gronkowski back. I don’t think the Bronco’s had to contend with both Gronk and Hernandez in the first game. I do think both teams have improved and the game will probably be much more competitive, but it is hard to imagine a Bronco victory in Foxborough in January. In fact, I’m waiting to see how Manning, who played the majority of his career indoors, plays when the weather finally turns in Denver too.

  • chevss454 Will S.

    Incredibly weak? We don’t have a Lance Briggs but PFF ranks Jerod Mayo the 4th best OLB in coverage right behind your own Wes Woodyard. You must think Woodyard’s a pretty good cover guy even though he has deficiencies against the run. Hightower isn’t a bad cover guy but he’s doesn’t have Mayo’s speed. Not surprisingly, BB seldom puts H’tower in coverage duties (short middle zone primarily) similar to the way Fox doesn’t put Von Miller in coverage very often.

    BB normally uses a nickel or big nickel DB to take coverage duties over H’tower. Incredibly weak is way too strong, imo.

    The Pats are well versed in playing against PManning. They know him very well & that can’t be forgotten.

  • Johnny Vicars

    Not sure facing the bottom feeders of the league means you are playing better. The pats are playing out of their minds….Denver is having tough games against KC and Oakland.

  • Pete Baron

    I try not to weigh Manning’s W/L record against team X too heavily though. The reason for this is because Manning has been with the Colts his entire career before he joined us this offseason. I mean, how often does Manning lose to the Texans and Falcons? See what I mean? I mean, before last year, we (Broncos) have handed the Patriots their asses, but that wasn’t the case this year, so you almost can’t take Team X versus Team Y into much consideration either (although I weigh much more heavily when it comes to that).

    This Broncos team is radically different than Manning’s old Colts teams. Because of the talent Manning possesses, I will say that the games will probably be close, but because the Broncos are different than the Colts, I kinda refuse to take Manning’s old record against the Patriots into much consideration… Now, Manning’s playoff record is completely different, as he tends to play worse come playoff time.

  • Pete Baron

    And the Patriots had tough games against the Cardinals, Jets, Dolphins, and Seahawks…

    Much like the Broncos enjoyed the luxury of playing in a bad division, so too do the Patriots, year after year after year. If you swapped the Broncos for the Patriots in their divisions, the Broncos still go 6-0 in the AFC East, and the Patriots still probably go 5-1 or 6-0 in the AFC West. You can only play your schedule, of which the Broncos have a 1st place schedule.

    I mean, I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to get the Titans, Bills, Rams, Jaguars, Jets, and Dolphins. I’d LOVE IT!!!! So please bring something a bit stronger to the conversation than we play KC and Oakland.

  • Pete Baron

    I’m sticking with incredibly weak… but guess what? The Broncos are pretty weak to the inside 10 yard quick passes too.

    The 1 thing that I 100% agree with you on is that the Patriots know Peyton Manning very, very well. While Manning plays on a Broncos team that is different from his Colts team, the Patriots can still play against Manning’s “trends”, which will give them more success than probably other teams we face.

    BTW, part 2 of this article is up, which talks about how the game would play out if it was played today.

  • chevss454 Will S.

    It wasn’t the Broncos who gave Belichick fits. It was Shanahan. Still don’t understand why but Shanny and Coughlin (to some extent) are really the only 2 HCs to give him fits. Then McDaniels comes over and promptly beats Belichick. That’s understandable since McD designed the Pats O.

    The Patriots have already shown the ability to score against the Broncos defense in 3 games over the last 11 months. A healthy Gronk and Hernandez will provide the Pats with an advantage not enjoyed in the early game this year.

    As I said above, the Patriots know PManning and his tendencies very well.

  • Speer999

    Probably, the team has something serious to fight for, and to keep them staying focused this late in the season is a must. We only have 3 more games of practice.

  • Pete Baron

    yeah, but our defense was broken earlier this year (and last year, our offense was inept). So we truly are a completely different team this go around. The Patriots do know Manning’s tendencies, and will definitely play against them, but this week 14 Broncos team is in my opinion, the best overall team that Peyton Manning has ever played on, and that includes his 2006 Colts team.