Tag:Patriots vs. Broncos
Posted on: January 15, 2012 1:26 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 2:07 am
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Tom Brady's play emphasizes Tim Tebow's flaws

Brady's play and the Pats big lead exposed Tebow's biggest flaws. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

This isn't breaking news, but it really helps to have a good quarterback if you want to make a deep playoff run. And Tom Brady, in dismantling the Broncos defense during New England's 45-10 beatdown in Foxboro on Saturday, proved just that.

Brady wasn't perfect, per se, because he threw an interception and he "only" completed 26 of 34 passes.

But Brady did just about everything else, setting an NFL record with five touchdowns in the first half and tying an NFL record with six touchdowns in the win. If the Broncos had been remotely competitive, Brady would've destroyed any number of NFL postseason records while he piled on statistics at the end.

Instead, he had to settle for a 48-yard punt, the second of his career.

"We’ve been practicing it for seven years; a situation came up," Brady said after the game when asked about the punt on third down. "I was trying to get it inside the five but I needed a penalty to do that. I was happy about the call."


Brady punted because the Broncos couldn't generate anything remotely resembling a comeback, which is a direct result of having Tim Tebow under center. That's not to attack the Broncos quarterback; he had a fantastic storyline of a season and we assume there'll be some chatter about between now and the start of the 2012 season.

But Tebow's not built to hang with a guy like Brady in the playoffs. This is Tom Freaking Brady: he has 36 passing touchdowns in 20 career postseason games and has thrown for over 4,750 yards.

Tebow might have 316 working in his favor, but he doesn't have the pedigree, prestige or playoff performances of Brady. Although you wouldn't have known it heading into the game, when all the focus was on Tebow.

Pats throttle Broncos

After the game, Brady didn't directly say that said attention bothered him, but he came pretty close.

"I think that everyone focused on one player and I think all week we were focused on the entire Denver Bronco team," Brady said when asked about the attention Tebow got. "We knew what kind of challenges they presented. Tim is a very good quarterback, they have a good defense, great rushing team, make some big plays in the pass game like they did against Pittsburgh. We knew the threats; we understood the danger of not playing our best game. I thought we came out and really responded well."

That much is obvious: the Patriots had this game in the bag before the teams adjourned to the locker room. Tebow had three completions. Brady had five touchdown passes. What else do you need to know? Because it's not like this year's Patriots team is known for shutting down opposing quarterbacks.

But everyone knew there would be no comeback. And there would be no hope for a comeback. That's because of a clear difference between the two guys running the offense for each team. Tebow can do some crazy things -- and he did this year -- but coming back from a 28-point deficit just isn't on the old miracle to-do list.

Tebow might be the story everyone loves to hop on, but Brady's still the quarterback with a trio of rings on his hand. And he reminded everyone of that on Saturday night.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:08 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 12:21 am
 

Patriots serve championship notice in blowout win

Brady has three Super Bowl rings but had a record-setting performance against Denver Saturday. (AP)
By Will Brinson

Heading into Saturday's Patriots-Broncos game, there was plenty of concern about what kind of miracles Tim Tebow could work against a weakened Patriots defense. With a virtuoso, record-breaking performance against Denver in a 45-10 blowout win, Tom Brady and the Pats quickly dispelled that ridiculous notion.

Pats throttle Broncos

Speaking of ridiculous notions, we all need to get rid of the idea that the Patriots can't win a Super Bowl with their porous defense. Because they can. After winning eight-straight games to close the season, people still disrespected the Patriots; after all, they didn't beat a single team with a record above .500 in 2011.

And, of course, they had the second-worst defense in the regular season. But this isn't about the long grind of 16 games. This is about preparing for two more individual opponents and maximizing chances over the course of 120 minutes on the field, which is precisely what the Patriots excel at doing, as they showed on Saturday night.

"Once we found out who were were playing [after the bye week] I think these guys really did a good job of focusing on a target and they were obviously ready to go today," Bill Belichick said after the game. "I have to give the players all the credit in the world. They stepped up and made a lot of big plays."

In other words, once the Patriots figure out who they'll play in the AFC Championship Game, it would be foolish to believe they can't figure out a way to slow said team down. If you don't believe me, just ask the 2007 Indianapolis Colts.

That Colts team finished 29th in total defense. The idea that they could slow anyone down was laughable heading into the playoffs. But they did just that in limiting the Chiefs and Ravens to 14 points total, winning a shootout with the Patriots and then limiting the Bears to 17 points in the Super Bowl.

They gelled at the right time and it's possible the Patriots could be doing the same thing right now. No, the Broncos aren't the Packers. But you think the Patriots can't win in a shootout? Because they can. And if their opponent makes a mistake, they're infinitely dangerous -- we saw just that at the end of the first half against Denver when Brady tossed two (more) touchdowns in less than two minutes.


"That was huge," Belichick said of the two-touchdown swing to end the first half. "And then we got a stop to start the third quarter so that sequence there … was big for us. We had the lead but then the game got out of hand at that point. That was really well executed by our football team, especially offensively."

It's the kind of swing only a few teams are capable of pulling off, and the Patriots and Packers probably qualify as the only teams remaining with that much explosiveness. Broncos coach John Fox, given his comments after the game, likely agrees.
"They're better than us," Fox said after the game.

They are. And the Patriots are better than a lot of teams, even if the defense stunk all year and they didn't have a hard schedule.

Now they just have to be better than two more teams to get that fourth ring for Brady.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 9:58 pm
 

Brady breaks TD record in first-half blowout

Brady throws five first-half touchdowns, three to his tight end. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Will Brinson

All week long, there were rumblings that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was as focused and as intense as he's ever been. After watching him toss an NFL record five touchdowns in the first half of a 35-7 beatdown of Denver in New England, that sounds about right.

Brady's hasn't been entirely flawless, going "only" 18 of 25 with a pick, but 246 yards and five touchdowns are numbers you'd love to see from a quarterback over the course of a game, much less a half.

Denver's got no answer for the Patriots on defense, and haven't gotten a sniff of pressure on Brady throughout the first half. So with plenty of time to throw, he spent 30 minutes of football time breaking records and getting Rob Gronkowski a playoff-record three touchdowns in the first half as well.

Tim Tebow's not having quite as much success, going 3/10 for 28 yards and rushing five times for 13 yards.

It's not that he's just not showing up in the coldest game of his career though; the Patriots defense is playing at a surprisingly high level. Even if the Broncos aren't the most potent offensive team, it's a friendly reminder what can happen if a defense has a superstar on the other side of the ball and starts clicking at the right time.

Although if Brady plays like he did in the first half for the rest of the playoffs, the defense can probably do whatever it wants. As CBS Sports Dan Marino pointed out at halftime, the only way the Broncos are coming back is if they convince Brady to swap uniforms.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 3:24 pm
 

Report: NFL to look at coaches swapping teams

The NFL could keep teams from grabbing coaches midseason. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Josh McDaniels, who will reportedly be working from the coaches' box on Saturday, switched teams "midseason" this year when the Patriots hired him to replace departing offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

This didn't sit well with a number of teams and Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the NFL will look at restricting movement of coaches from one team to another during the same league year.

The Broncos, in particular, didn't appreciate the swap, considering that McDaniels, who has intimate knowledge of their roster and personnel, spent all week helping the Pats prepare to play Denver again. (Probably not helping things: Tom Brady's assertion that McD has "inside information.")

Mortensen reports that "a few clubs lodged complaints" about McDaniels transfer and such complaints could be impetus for a rule preventing coaches from swapping teams midseason.

Implementing such a rule would be a logical move, even if the Patriots have several sound excuses -- O'Brien's already moving towards Penn State, and McDaniels will eventually be the full-time OC -- for bringing in McDaniels right away.

It's clear that having McDaniels on staff gives the Patriots some advantage and it's an unfair leg up on an opponent. It's also a gateway for some team down the road to temporarily hire a fired coach simply for a playoff or late-season matchup.

And that's why the NFL would be wise to nip it in the bud before it becomes a more serious issue.

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:56 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 1:32 am
 

Grudge Report: Divisional matchups are chippy

Eli and Aaron meet again this weekend. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Every year, the NFL schedule makers help create myriad storylines during the regular season. But even the most carefully-planned crafter of matchups couldn't have worked up what we're seeing in the 2011 playoffs.

Not only are all four playoff matchups rematches of contests from earlier in the season (the Saints and 49ers went head-to-head in the preseason), but there's a smaller -- albeit more intriguing storyline -- that goes along with each. Let's examine.

The Matchup: Patriots (-13.5) vs. Broncos
The Grudge
: Josh McDaniels vs. Tim Tebow
Actually, there's no "grudge" between McDaniels and Tebow, per se. In fact, McDaniels is probably happier to see Tebow's success than anyone in the Broncos organization.

Their stupefying march to New England is borderline miraculous and made even more surprising by the fact that McDaniels tenure in Denver -- which lasted a scant 28 games -- was supposed to bottom out the franchise for years to come.

Tebow was the answer for Denver because things were too be too bad to bother with convention. Instead, he provided the spark that gave the Broncos their first division title and first playoff berth since 2005.

McDaniels, who also drafted Demaryius Thomas in the first round of the 2009 draft, can't (and won't) be totally redeemed yet, because Denver's still picking up some pieces from his time spent in the Mile High.

And forget forgiveness, even if the Broncos win, especially since he retreated back to the dark side in an official capacity just moments after the Broncos toppled Pittsburgh in Denver on Sunday.

Broncos fans, members of the Denver media, Broncos players and even Patriots players believe that McDaniels has some magic elixer up his sleeve to stop the Broncos. He might know the personnel on the roster, but they're operating under John Fox.

That still won't change the motivation for both sides, though.

Leach could be the key against his old team. (Getty Images)

The Matchup: Ravens (-7.5) vs. Texans
The Grudge: Vonta Leach vs. Texans
Leach isn't the only ex-Texan looking to get back at his old team -- Pete Prisco correctly nailed the motivation that will fuel safety Bernard Pollard when he faces his old team, especially with the strides they've made on defense. Leach's deal with Houston goes deeper than just changing teams, and he'd tell you that himself:

"Bottom line #texans did not offer me a fair deal or my worth and I found a home in bmore and I'm happy #Ravens!" Leach tweeted on January 7th.

In case you missed it, Arian Foster (who joked with Leach on Twitter about grabbing a meal while he was in town on "business") led the league in rushing with Leach as his fullback last year. Leach was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro last year, and with the Texans deciding that they could handle their business on the ground sans his presence can't sit well with the ECU grad.

While many believe this game will come down to whether T.J. Yates or Joe Flacco can make more plays, I wholeheartedly disagree. The winner of this game will have more rushing yards and longer touchdown runs, and Leach will be the guy motivated to make sure that Ray Rice ends up with a bigger game than his old teammate Foster.

The Matchup: 49ers vs. Saints (-3.5)
The Grudge: Jim Harbaugh vs. Sean Payton
When the Lions and Saints squared off last week, the idea was that an upset by Detroit might create Handshake Gate 2.0.

But the reality is there might have been a bigger rivalry stewing between Payton and Harbaugh all season long, thanks to Payton releasing his entire pound of hounds at Alex Smith before the season began in a game that ultimately didn't count.

Both coaches downplayed the preseason kerfuffle this week, but what else would you expect?

Harbaugh's talk leading up to Wild-Card Weekend as if the Saints were his only focus, and it's a) hard to blame him (they're the better team/likely opponent) and b) have you seen this guy with revenge on his brain? It's terrifying.

Payton ain't exactly the last guy who'd stick it to someone, but we could see some epic-level celebration if San Francisco wins. Like, Harbaugh could end up doing the Truffle Shuffle at midfield.

At the very least, we could see some Schwartz-level fist-pumps.

The Matchup: Packers (-7.5) vs. Giants
The Grudge: 2007 vs. 2011
Everyone automatically assumes the easy reference for this game is the Giants 2007 season, when they beat the Packers in Lambeau (after losing to an undefeated team 38-35 during the season) en route to winning a Super Bowl.

But these teams (the exact same ones!) already played this year, when the Packers won in New York.

In that game, Eli was working his way to elite status by leading the Giants back. Only Aaron Rodgers got the ball last and when that happens the Packers typically win. In this case, they did, and it's something that's sitting on the minds of both teams.

The Giants want revenge for an earlier loss in the season, obviously. But the Packers are motivated for a different reason: no one is talking about them. We mentioned earlier this year that the Packers are the most dominant team in NFL history to fly under the radar. It remains that way for a number of different storylines.

The Giants might not have forgotten the previous game from 2011, and maybe they haven't forgotten 2007. But don't think for a second that the Packers have either. Both those games are still fresh on their mind. And, we're willing to bet, serving as more than enough motivation to take care of business against New York in Lambeau.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com