Sunday proved to be an important win for the New England Patriots.
Facing the Denver Broncos in Denver is never an easy task, especially against what remains of one of the greatest defenses of all time from last season.
Is it too early to say that? Last year’s Broncos defense was one of the greatest defenses OF ALL TIME? Maybe that’s too bold of a statement? I’m sure that’s an argument for a different day. For now I’m going to go with it…
It got to the point on Sunday afternoon where Tom Brady didn’t even need to get going to win the game. The Broncos defense got manhandled although it was never shown on the scoreboard. It was a battle of run games and lines.
For the home team, the Broncos offensive line is simply weak. Gary Kubiak’s offense revolves around having a running back that can wear down defenses (see: the revolving door of running back success last year for the Broncos and Kubiak’s stint of success with Arian Foster for the Houston Texans) and a quarterback that has decent footwork. This is why Brock looked better than Peyton Manning last year: the old timer just didn’t have quick feet anymore. The problem this year is that they haven’t been able to maintain health at the running back position and their offensive line hinders running back progression. The Patriots did a good job locking down the big weapons at wide receiver in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and the running game essentially took care of itself.
For the Patriots on offense, there’s a lot to applaud here. The Broncos defense simply can’t guard the run without Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson while also missing key guys like Brandon Marshall to injury. The pass rush is as good as ever with a line consisting of Derek Wolfe, Demarcus Ware and the unstoppable Von Miller. Except.. Von Miller was stopped on Sunday… multiple times. In fact, if right after last season’s AFC Championship Game I told you that the next time these teams were to face off Patriots lineman Marcus Canon would shut down Von Miller you would’ve laughed in my face. The funniest part is that it actually happened. It was a battle, but the line managed to hold just enough. Dion Lewis led the team in rushing, while LeGarrette Blount got his 15th running TD of the season and dominated carries in the final quarter of the game. The two of the combined typically ran on first and second down and got enough yardage, if they didn’t convert the first down, where Tom Brady just had to make a routine play to convert for a new first down. The Patriots played the clock more than they did the opposing team, and in turn they won the game.
Not a bad idea to play it safe against the Broncos in Denver, a team that typically gives us trouble in a place that usually gives Tom hell. This week should prove to be a tad bit easier when playing the struggling Jets at home.