We've made it back to the promised land after 15 seasons. Just shows how uncertain it is to ever reach the BIG game again. Now it's up to this "team" to take the Lombardi trophy back to Denver. On a day where the top two teams in the AFC faced off for a chance at the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos played their most complete game of the season. The biggest surprise was the performance of the defensive unit. They hounded our most rivaled QB responsible for so much of our most recent heart breaks(not named Peyton Manning). This game was won in the trenches as Terrence Knighton lead the way to a dominating performance. This defense has faced back to back top 10 offenses and completely shut them down. The score doesn't even do any justice to the downright beat down the Broncos gave the Patriots. The 3rd highest scoring team from New England was only able to manage 3 points through over 3 quarters of the game. The Patriots put up 13 garbage points at the end but the game was never in danger. The offensive line also kept Manning upright the entire game giving up ZERO QB hits. With Peyton Manning and his surgical performance, the Patriots really had no chance.
Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images
A Good Loss
Coming into the post season, we were lined up against the only teams that beat us in the regular season. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but those were all positive losses for Denver. I know that players say they don't need any more motivation for the playoffs, but when you're a player going against a team that already beat you, you get a chip on your shoulder to prove them wrong. The best thing that could have happened was we lose to these teams and give our own players the feeling of being the underdog. No over looking a 9-7 Chargers team that limped into the playoffs. How could you when they were the only ones to beat the Broncos on their own turf. The Patriots also got a false sense of hope in beating the Broncos where we muffed 2 punts just to lose in overtime.....minus Julius Thomas. This time we were healthy and at home where the crowd was just AWESOME. The sea of Orange was a thing of beauty. Now we see the Seattle Seahawks, who beat down the Broncos 40-10 in the preseason. That'll keep the team's focus on a team they've seen handle them earlier in the year. The silver lining is, Peyton carved up that PED defense before hitting the bench. And this time it won't be in Seattle.
Slow Hurry Hurry
We took the Patriots' game plan(and everyone else's for that matter) of keeping Peyton on the sideline and used it to keep Brady on the bench. From being the team with the fastest tempo, to dominating the game clock with an 11:30 minute advantage. That's almost an entire quarter of football that Peyton got to use to put up more points than Tom Brady. The two most time consuming drives of the entire season started the 2nd and 3rd quarter possessions. Adam Gase gets a whole lot of credit as this offense out schemed the Patriots defense on their way to looking unstoppable. Even taking a page from the Patriots' playbook and lining up Virgil Green in the backfield a la Hernandez and even making an athletic run to gain some positive yardage. If not for dropped passes and untimely penalties, this is a huge blowout. When you score on 6 straight drives, it's clearly an awesome all around game by the offense.
Apparently no one wanted to pay attention to how good this defense was against the run. All I heard all week here in the New England area was how the Broncos were going to stop LeGarrette Blount. They swore Blount would be the difference maker, not Tom Brady. Well, they got it right. Blount was smoked and was a non factor. The Broncos defensive unit was just overlooked and disrespected after all the key injuries to some household names and even forgetting about the first ballot Hall of Famer, not named Peyton Manning. This defense has just faced 2 of the most dynamic offenses of the entire NFL and has given up just 17 and 16 points respectively. They came right out from the start forcing consecutive 3-and-outs by the Patriots. Even coming up big and shutting out the Patriots offense in the first quarter even after they reached deep into Broncos territory. Statement made.
Tony Carter rises from the inactive list to the main stage. Mr. Uggs came after the inconsistent DB and Carter made his fair share of plays. Even playing a deep route early in the game down the sideline perfectly and coming close to intercepting the pass. This was the perfect matchup for Carter since the Patriots had smaller, quicker receivers rather than the larger more physical types that he struggles to get down. On a big stage, Tony Carter stepped up and contributed to a big win.
Do you think the league knows Danny Trevathan yet? If not, they just aren't paying attention. This kid was all over the field and laying huge hits. Most notably the crossing route by Edelman where he tried to step back and elude Trevathan, but the young LB brought the pain and blasted the WR and forcing the ball to come loose as the receiver hit the ground. Hits like that make a statement. I think the Patriots got the message.
Terrance Knighton was obviously one of the game's MVPs. Totaling 4 tackles 2 of which were for a loss to go along with a drive ending sack on 4th down. Knights Out hassled the Patriots offense ALL day long. Constantly playing on the Patriot side of the ball. He lead a defensive front that never let Brady get comfortable. Robert Ayers beasts his way into the backfield for another huge sack and Mincey constantly gets his hands on the QB. Many questioned how we were going to get any pressure without Von Doom. Well, next man up.
It was sad to see how far "fans" tore Champ Bailey down to the ground. He was washed up and should be cut because he wasn't playing. This guy got injured. End of story. Too many people disregarded his very real injury and just labeled him a waste of a roster spot. He was injured. End of story. People proclaim he's lost all of his speed and just isn't fit to be an NFL CB, even though he played one of his better seasons just a year ago. Then he gets healthy and plays lights out in the biggest game of the year. Just how good did he play? Just ask how good Wes Welker's younger more expensive replacement, Amendola, played. ZERO, big fat zero receptions on the day. Champ played mostly in the slot where Amendola was playing and just shut down that entire part of the field. I did my best to pay attention to Champ at the snap and he was rarely even targeted. He was on top of his game like he promised to be and just shut up the naysayers that coincidentally all slid back under rocks. Great job Champ. Never lost faith in you.
What a disgrace that John Elways was once again passed over as Executive of the Year, which went to the KC Chief's John Dorsey. Please explain to me how this made any type of sense. What did Dorsey do for KC? He already had half a defense of probowlers. He brought in Alex Smith and Smith brought him a first round exit in the playoffs. He was masterful for scooping up Marcus Cooper after hitting the waiver wire. Cooper ended up being everyone's target on game day with tons of success. Decker and DT would agree. Then we bring up John Elway and his resume. The roster he has built is now playing in the Super Bowl. He brought in an All-Pro free agent in Vasquez. Who picks up All-Pros in free agency.....on the cheap? Also brought in Terrance Knighton who was a co-MVP of the AFC championship game. Then there's Shaun Phillips who led this team in sacks and stopped a key 2 point conversion at the end of the game that all but sealed the game. Even Mincey was a huge late season pick up which was just clutch by the old Duke. DRC is sadly overlooked for his elite play, but not a secret in Denver. With so much injury and misfortune(heart attack) that has happened to this team, John Elway's leadership help keep this ship on track for the Super Bowl. It was just an outright disappointment that Elway is once again overlooked for his stand up job. It's at the point that draft picks don't even make it onto this stacked team. STACKED!
Little Quick Notes:
- Zero 3-and-outs for the post season. 1 punt in total. Offensive efficiency.
- Talib getting hurt was not going to make a difference. He was already getting spun like a top by DT early in the game. He was not a shutdown corner, not on this day.
- Mitch Unrein got trucked by Tom Brady......
- Money Man Matt Prater was the difference in this game making all 4 of his FGs. He got some heat earlier in the season, but Prater has earned every penny of his rich contract.
- Wes Welker was "known" for his drops in New England during big games. I guess he doesn't have that problem in Denver. He came up with a couple tough catches in traffic.
- Boy our RBs were blocking their tails off! The Patriots brought some aggressive blitzes up the middle and our RBs were stone walling them with some huge collisions. Peyton safe.
- 2nd and 20 have never been a problem all season for this offense. What are we, 6 of 7 when facing 2nd and 20? Any distance is attainable when you have the greatest offense in NFL history.
- We won the coin toss again! Win early.
- Peyton's audible to a Moreno draw was huge! 3rd and long and we convert with a draw. Peyton outsmarting Belicheat!
- Points before the half are always good, but Foxy had a senior moment calling a timeout with 30 seconds left on the clock instead of running the clock. Peyton was pissed and rightfully so. Why let Brady get the ball back? He almost connected with Edelman deep down the sideline that would have lead to points for the opponent. Let's get that fixed Foxy, you're better than that.
- Why do the talking heads mention the dink and dunk offense like it's a bad thing? 600+ points, I'll take it.
- Awesome that for the second game in a row, the Broncos offense was able to RUN out the clock and never give the ball back to the opponent. Championship teams know how to finish.
- Why isn't the entire NFL wearing Wes Welker helmets? Hello NFL? D'oh!
I was pretty confident going into this game. Definitely more confident than when we played the Chargers. The Patriots were supposedly a running team now, which was a great match up since our run D has been consistently good all season. When you give up just a single 100 yard rusher all season, and that name isn't even Jamal Charles(2), you're doing something right. All we'll hear about is how good the Seahawks defense is, pretending that this defense didn't just shut down 2 of the better offenses in the NFL. Richard Sherman will love the limelight and talk plenty as DT stays his same old humble self and just dominates. Though we struggled in the red zone going 2 of 6, that is something that can be fixed. We are the best in the red zone so I don't see that being much of a hurdle. I like the fact that we've lost to the Seahawks this year. Reminds our players of that chip on the shoulder. I'm confident going into the Super Bowl. Our team is fairly healthy after this game and with 2 weeks should be full go. Hoping the weather doesn't get too crazy. Go Broncos!