Arguably the toughest matchup of the Patriots end of season schedule, the Broncos and Tim Tebow did little to slow the on-slot of the high powered Patriots offense. The first quarter began with signs of trouble for the Patriots and their much maligned defense, as they did little more than watch the Broncos run all over the field to build a 13-7 lead. Yet this early success by the Broncos offense was quelled by their inability to hold on to the ball, coughing up 3 lost fumbles. Capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes has been the key to success on defensive throughout the year. While, home of one of the worst defenses in terms of yards allowed, the Patriots rank at the top of the league in turnover differential. Placing the ball in Tom Brady’s hands either by defensive stops (a rare occurrence) or turnovers gives the Patriots not just an opportunity not to just stay in games, but dominate. This week assisted by part 2 of the dynamic tight-end duo, Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady led the Patriots to 7 scores (5 touchdowns and 2 field goals). A game that seemed out of hand in the first quarter ended up being a game in which you would question if the other team even showed up to play.Patriots 41, Broncos 23.
This game also proved its importance with both a huge positive and a huge negative. First the positive: with their victory in Denver the Patriots secured a spot in the playoffs. Amazingly there have been only 2 seasons in which the Patriots have failed to make the playoffs with Tom Brady under center; the 2002 season after their first superbowl and 2006 the year Brady was injured. Now the negative: Andre Carter suffered a season ending leg injury. Arguably the Patriots best defender of the season, Carter racked up 10 sacks on a Patriots defensive line that rarely produces much QB pressure. Securing a playoff spot is a huge accomplishment for this Patriots team in a season in which much speculation has been thrown toward Bill Belichick and his handling of the team, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. While the defensive may stink, no argument there, you cannot question the teams victories, especially against a team with a solid defense in the Broncos. Time will only tell how the Patriots will fair in the playoffs especially without Andre Carter causing trouble in the opponents backfield, yet kudos to Belichick for steering this Patriots team to the playoffs for another season.