First, Happy Birthday to me. Too old for it to matter the age, but fun nonetheless. Good thing for us I received my present early with the Broncos heading to New England and continuing their ownage of Billy Boy, Brady, and the rest of the Patriots. Let's take a look at what my keys to victory were and how each of those things turned out -
For the most part Denver stayed in that 4 man rush and rarely, if ever, brought extra pressure. Brady did have a big night throwing, and at times had all night to scour the field. Fortunitely for the Broncos the talent base on the outside for New England has deteriorated. Even with time, Brady looked confused at times and several times threw the ball out of bounds. I mentioned it in the game thread and will say it again, there isn't much fire in Brady, and he is the emotional leader of that offense. The Broncos were also able to control the run, and against this year's version of the Patriots that is going to be the key to beat them.
This battle never really took off for either side. Tatum Bell was the featured back and was tough and dependable throughout the game. I can remember at least 4 occassions that Bell was a shoestring away from breaking a long one and it really looks like the coaching staff has settled on Tatum to be "The Man". For me, the offense always seems to run smoother when it's one guy, and I said as much last week. For New England, Corey Dillon was injured early on and didn't return. As it was, Bell and the Broncos dominated the running battle, with the Pats averaging only 2.4 yards a carry. Since the Patriots were forced into a lot of passing sitauations the Broncos were able to key on the pass, thus not allowing the Patriots to get into a rhythem.
Bell ran well against the Patriots Sunday Night
Advantage Broncos, big-time. The offense looked good all-night, and I credit the Patriots D for at least keeping it close. When it counted, however, the Patriots gave up several big plays to either keep drives alive(which kept the clock running), or allow the Broncos to put points on the board. Both TD's were simply a case of Denver wanting it more and the poor tackling by Pats' DB's reared it's ugly head again. Chalk this one up to the Mastermind, as his dominance of Belichick continues.
This might have been the key moment in the game. With Denver leading 3-0 in the 2nd Quarter, the Patriots drove down the field and were able to get into position for a game-tying FG. In past years, with Adam Vinatieri, you would chalk up the 3 points, game tied, both teams are back to square one. The Patriots now have a rookie kicker, and for the straight game Stephen Gostkowski had a FG attempt blocked. The Broncos took over possession, went down the field, and scored their first TD, on the way to a 10-0 halftime lead. Sure, kickers are taken for granted, but when you have a guy that might someday kick field goals in the Hall of Fame it might be a good idea to hang on to him.