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Broncos 21, Patriots 43: Highlights and Lowlights

When the Denver Broncos win, the MHR Staff gives out game balls. When they lose, we discuss both the good and the bad in our highlights and lowlights.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos 21, Patriots 43. For the first time in 2014, the Denver Broncos looked outmatched on the football field from start to finish. It didn't matter if the offense was on the field, the defense, or special teams. They failed in all three phases. Let's break down the good, the bad, and the ugly from Week 9.

Savor the highlights, because there isn't all that many of them in comparison the lowlights. Such is life after a blowout road loss.


Humble Pie: The one positive from Sunday for the Denver Broncos defenders is that huge dose of humble pie served up by Tom Brady. This is something that could become a huge motivating factor during the long, grueling NFL season. These guys will see the New England Patriots again in January, no doubt, and hopefully it will be in Denver again this year. - Tim Lynch

Peyton Manning: 438 yards extends his NFL record for 400 yard games. His two touchdown passes also extended his NFL record for multi-touchdown games. With Peyton, you are always riding high with NFL records getting shattered. - Pete Baron

Team Grit: Fighting till the clock says 0:00. We were in a blowout situation, yet this team never let down. We kept pushing New England by getting within two scores throughout the second half. That was a respectable fight put up by a losing team and one that I applaud. - Sadaraine

Run Defense: Highlight goes to the Denver Broncos defense for stuffing the run for another week. We held NE to 2.6 yards per carry (25 carries for 66 yards). - Joe Mahoney

Emmanuel Sanders: With 10 receptions for 151 yards – and a fifth game this season of at least 100 yards – Emmanuel Sanders deserves props for being one of the few bright spots in the Broncos collapse against the Patriots. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

Malik Jackson and DeMarcus Ware It's clear that Jackson is becoming one of Denver's premiere pass rushers from the inside, and he showed some of those moves again Sunday. Ware registered his eighth sack of the season in a game where he played 62 snaps, one of his highest snap counts of the year. - Kyle

Honorable Mention: Bradley Roby deserves some attention –not so much for his stats, which were admirable but not stupendous – but for playing aggressively and having a short memory after making a mistake. Despite earning a pass interference flag at the beginning of the third quarter, two plays later the cornerback knocked down a pass intended for Shane Vereen. On the very next play, the rookie intercepted Tom Brady’s pass for Danny Amendola. That turnover led to the Broncos’ first touchdown of the second half, making it less than a two-touchdown game for the Patriots and offering a glimmer of hope for the struggling Broncos. Unfortunately for all of us, that glimmer kept disappearing. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann


Jack Del Rio: Only an absolute genius would see the quickness off the snap, elasticity, range, and speed that Von Miller possesses and try to harness those skills in coverage against the most dominant tight end in the NFL. I will never forget where I was sitting when I saw Brady shake his head towards Gronk, and Gronk who was briefly distracted by the fact that Miller was covering him on the outside return the nod to Brady. Both Brady and Gronk were in awe of such splendid strategy that it only took a perfect snap to set into motion a touchdown pass for the ages. For you see on this day Broncos fans, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady beat the mighty Von Miller in coverage. It's coaching nuances like these that set Jack Del Rio and John Fox apart from the mainstream. It is why with enough hard work and perseverance, you too can become an NFL coach of some sort. Hail Del Rio, king of the orange crush! - Bronco Mike

Rob Gronkowski: Failing to grab the low-hanging fruit on the defensive side of the ball. New England loves Rob Gronkowski. We talked about this all week leading up to the game. We talked about how awesome of a weapon he is and what a threat he is. The MHR Community knew that this guy was a game-breaking talent and the biggest weapon that New England had. I guess our defensive coordinators don't read MHR though because he was treated like any other guy on the field. For most of the plays we ran, his defender was decided by where he lined up in the formation. I don't understand how you don't match him up specifically with someone who can handle him consistently and / or put bracket coverage on him no matter where he lines up in the red zone. - Sadaraine

Peyton Manning: Thud. That's the sound of Peyton Manning (yet again) proving that although he can do most things, there are simply some things he can't such as playing in New England and winning, and also playing like a megastar QB in the cold. Whoever wrote that narrative can do what again? Sack yourself like you're Kyle Orton? Oh, I know, how about throw 2 INTs, surely that's what we can stick where the sun don't shine, right? How about squandering the NFL's most talented roster when things aren't perfect? Yes, that MUST be what we're shoving in places that even Nuclear Man can't escape. **(Note: I'm hoping this narrative will have the same effect on Peyton as last year's narrative did: A pissed off PFM that wills his team to the Super Bowl). - Pete Baron

Aqib Talib: Talib has been a find for the Broncos up to Week 9, but against the Patriots, the wheels fell off. Talib was graded a Broncos-2014-worst -4.6 in pass coverage by PFF, with Julian Edelman in particular owning the former Patriot. It was like being near Bill Belichick again was Talib's weird Kryptonite. Get better soon, Superman, the Broncos need you. - Kyle

Not-so-special teams: In the first half before anyone had scored Kayvon Webster got a 15 yard penalty that gave the Patriots great field position. Result - Patriots field goal. In the 2nd quarter Britton Colquitt bobbled the ball and barely got off his punt, which seemed like a lucky break until Edelman ran it back for a Patriots touchdown.

In the Broncos' next drive Brandon McManus missed a 41 yard field goal by doinking it off the right upright. Which resulted not only in 3 missed points, but gave the Pats great field position and even more momentum. Add onto that the failure to convert on 4th and 6th at the end of the 2nd quarter rather than trying for another field goal (Fox told a reporter during halftime he made that decision because they had just missed a field goal) and I don't think I even need to talk about the second half. When your special teams is a mess and can't be trusted it is very hard to win. - Amy Richau

Adding to Amy's: Our ineptitude on kick-off returns. We had 6 chances to return kickoffs this past game and we tried 4 different players back there as returners. The net result was 81 total yards on 6 kickoff returns - 13.5 yards per return with a long of 19. To put that in perspective, Edelman had more yards on his punt return TD than we had one 6 kickoff returns. The NFL average this year is 23.9 yards per return. Our 4 returners (Caldwell, Sanders, Bolden and Latimer) were more than 10 yards worse than average on Sunday. We are currently 30th in average yards per kickoff return (20.0). At least we haven't had any {non-reversed} fumbles on kickoff returns yet, otherwise we might be hearing some clamor to bring back Trindon. - Joe Mahoney

Denver Broncos defense: Allowing the Pats to convert on two third and longs on their final TD drive. Had we been able force a punt on that drive, we'd have gotten the ball back down two scores (16 points) with most of the 4th quarter remaining. The Pats only converted 7 3rd downs (one by penalty which doesn't show in the box score) in the game, but three came on that drive when our team desperately needed the the defense to step up. - Joe Mahoney

3rd/4th down defense: Thank you orange crush defense for blowing it with every single opportunity you had to turn the tide on Sunday. The real Orange Crush would have come up with a play in this game. - Tim Lynch

The silver lining

The only silver lining I could drudge up is this one - IT'S RAIDERS WEEK! Which means its the perfect time to bounce back and regain some of that defensive swagger for the final push for homefield advantage.