By: Russ Goldman
During the season after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”. Several weeks ago I decided to change it, and focus on what good came out of each game. The negatives in this game are far and few between. I am going to bring you Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Broncos.
There was much talk prior to this game about Tim Tebow, and the fact that the Patriots had not won a playoff game since the AFC Championship game in the 2007 season. Looking back at it now, those two talking points were eliminated by a dominating performance by the New England Patriots on both sides of the ball.
The Patriots came out strong, and got out to a 14 point lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Tom Brady threw an interception which led to a Broncos touchdown, and some fans might have gotten a little nervous at that point.
However, Brady would erase those fears shortly afterwards, and add an additional 21 points to the score before the half was over. The Patriots really ended the game with a 35-7 half-time lead. The Patriots would cruise in the second half, and the game ended with an impressive 45-10 victory over the Broncos.
The only negative I can really come up with is maybe the coaching staff left the starters in too long in the second half. Aaron Hernandez after a running play did come off the field with a reported head injury. The Hernandez injury will be one to watch this week.
In this game there were so many positives to point to for the Patriots against the Broncos. However, I am going to give you five that I feel are important to discuss.
1. Tom Brady showed what a difference an elite quarterback can make in the playoffs. In the local media this week, I had read and heard a great deal of how badly Brady had played in his last three playoff games.
Well, Brady answered his critics by tying an NFL record with six touchdown passes in a playoff game. The Patriots quarterback also threw for 363 yards in a stellar performance.
Being at the game, I could really watch the calmness that Brady had in the pocket. He was in complete control of his offense, and the Broncos had no answers for him on defense.
2. The Patriots offensive line did their job incredibly well protecting Tom Brady. I thought the protection for Brady in this game would be the biggest key in this match-up.
The line did their job as they did not give up a sack, and honestly Brady was not really pressured at all. The Patriots quarterback had plenty of time to throw the ball, and the line had a great deal to do with the offense really clicking against the Broncos.
3. Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung gave a big boost to the Patriots defense. These two defensive players had missed several weeks this season with injuries. They both made an impact against the Broncos.
Chung played all 71 snaps on defense, and was the leader of the secondary. He had four total tackles, but he was often seen being very active in the Patriots defense.
Spikes I thought had a huge impact in the defense on running and passing downs. He played in 59 snaps, and had 6 total tackles along with 1 sack. I watched him often stopping the run and was involved in getting after Tebow. His return to the defense could be a bigger plus than some might think.
4. The Patriots defense caused 14 negative plays. I can’t remember the last time the Patriots defense forced that amount of negative plays. It is also an indication that the Patriots were aggressive, and attacked the Denver offense for four quarters.
It wasn’t just about getting after Tebow, as they caused loss of yardage on many running plays as well. This defense was not sitting back, and letting the offense dictate the play to them. They took control of the play as they harassed the Denver offense. This was the first time this season, I saw an attacking defense throughout the game.
5. The Patriots fans were very very loud in this game. The Patriots fans have been criticized over the years for not being that loud at Gillette Stadium. It is hard to tell how much the noise made a difference in the game, but the decibel level was sure noticeable.
The fans were into it, and it was really nice to hear the stadium rock like it did against the Broncos. Patriots fans sure made their voices heard in this playoff game.
Overall, this was a very impressive win by the Patriots against the Broncos. The major positive to take out of this game for me is that both the offense and the defense made a huge difference, as it was a balanced performance by the team.
As we get ready for the AFC Championship game against the Ravens, I am sure we will be spun the negatives of this Patriots team. My advice is to remember the positives from this game, and and let’s look forward to the clash with Baltimore.