Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

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    Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

         The host Broncos were clearly in the Christmas spirit today, as they were kind enough to gift wrap this victory for the Pats. Two fumbles, a muffed punt, and a missed extra point aided in contributing 14 points to the Patriots' cause...not to mention a bevy of holding penalties, both offensive and defensive...and a face mask penalty. Still, only the good teams take full advantage of such breaks, as the Patriots did today. Here are my grades:

    I. OFFENSE: Balanced and explosive. After a semi slow start, the Patriots exploded in the second quarter, outscoring the Broncos 20-3 in that stanza...as the Broncos began bearing their gifts.

    1.) QB: Aside from two misfires, one overthrown on a deep pattern in the closing seconds of the first half, and one underthrown short pass in the endzone, midway in the decisive second quarter, Tom was outstanding. He finished with 23 completions in 34 attempts, including two TDs, a rushing TD on a QB sneak, and, most importantly, threw no interceptions. Aside from the aforementioned two misfires, his accuracy and decision making was never better. Despite being without Deion Branch, and the fact that, by and large, the Broncos contained Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski, the "Terrific One" still found a way to get it done. Some of Tom's highlights were a 33 yard rope for a TD to a wide open Chad Ochocinco, a 19 yard completion to Wes Welker over the middle...which set up a TD in the 2nd quarter, a 25 yard catch and run with Aaron Hernandez on a 4th and 1 second quarter play, and a 38 yard short pass and gallop by Gronk.
         On the aforementioned 4th and one conversion to Hernandez, credit Brady for recognizing the Broncos' stacked defense, and for calling a time-out to reset the play. Credit Tom too for being one tough hombre. How he held onto the football when he was de-cleated by Elvis Dumervil early in the 4th quarter is beyond me. Also...credit him for a couple of rugged, head-first, QB sneaks...one to score a TD, one to pick up a first down, and a couple of others to run off some clock in the 4th quarter:
    GRADE: A;

    2.) RBs: Collectively, this was this unit's best game of the season...and most productive game overall, since the win over the Jets in Foxborough. Stevan Ridley finally ran today like he in the pre-season, finishing with 65 yards on 11 carries, including a 4th quarter 24 yard, tackle-breaking, sideline run. Danny Woodhead added 40 yards on 7 carries, including a 3rd quarter, water-bug like 10 yard burst on a draw play, to put the Pats up, 34-16, in the third quarter. BJGE had only 17 yards on 10 carries...but scored the Pats game clinching final TD, on a one yard run. Credit Bennie also with a 21 yard catch and run on a safety valve dump-off. In all, the Pats rushed for 141 yards on 36 carries. It was enough to keep the Broncos' defense honest for the majority of the game:
    GRADE: B+;

    3.) OL: A missed assignment, seemingly by rookie RT Nate Solder nearly got Tom Brady killed. That, and a couple of uncomfortable moments involving center Ryan Wendell (holding penalty and a couple of adventuresome center exchanges with Brady in the 3rd quarter), were the negatives. Other than that, this may have been the most complete game played by this unit in a while. The Big Uglies gave the "Terrifc One" plenty of time to work his magic...and, for a change, actually opened up some running room for the RBs...particularly Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. But...they can't ever allow a defender to get the kind of clean shot at Brady that Elvis Dumervil got.
    GRADE: B;   

    4.) TEs & WRs: Usually, when discussing the TEs, their performance as a unit is either good or outstanding, with Rob Gronkowski getting the top billing. The performance of the TEs was outstanding again, but this time, the top billing goes to Aaron Hernandez. With the Broncos constantly double-teaming Gronk, Hernandez stepped up, and had his best game as a pro. He finished with 9 receptions for 129 yards, and a TD. His runs after catches were particularly outstanding, such as the above mentioned 25 yard fourth and one conversion, and on a 22 yard catch and run, which set up the final Pats' TD.
         Though Gronk was held to just 4 catches for 53 yards, he came alive in the 4th quarter, and turned in a nifty 38 yard catch and run on the Pats' final scoring drive. Usual good job of blocking from Gronk as well, at the point of attack. 
         As for the WRs, though they only produced a combined six (6) receptions for 87 yards, one of those was the above mentioned 33 yard first quarter TD pass to Chad Ochocinco...one was the above mentioned 19 yarder to Wes Welker, setting up a TD, and another was 13 yard completion to Tiquan Underwood, to pick up a first down, and establish field position, on the Pats' initial drive of the 2nd half:
    GRADE: B+ ("A+" for the TEs, "C+" for the WRs);

    II. DEFENSE: 
    After an horrendous first quarter, in which the Broncos gouged the Pats' front seven for 152 yards on the ground, the "D" settled down, and gave an all-around solid effort. But, going into prevent mode, and rushing just three, on a 3rd and 18 in the 4th quarter, almost allowed the Broncos to get back in the game.

    1.) DL: First, the real bad news. The Pats' most dependable pass-rusher this season, and pro-bowl DE candidate, Andre Carter, went down with what was diagnosed as an injury to his left quad, that will likely require surgery to repair. This being the case, it appears that Carter is done for the season: http://www.nesn.com/2011/12/report-andre-carter-could-need-surgery-to-repair-quad-injury.html
         After a first quarter in which the Broncos dominated the line of scrimmage, and rushed for 152 yards, the DL began making stops. In addition, the DL applied consistent pressure to QB Tim Tebow. DE Mark Anderson, who replaced Andre Carter, had his best game as a Patriot. Anderson had three tackles (all solos), including two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Ron Brace also forced a fumble, and Gerard Warren, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick all made their presence known in the Denver backfield:
    GRADE: B;

    2.) LBs: 
    Rob Ninkovick let Denver QB Tim Tebow get away from him, on the Broncos' initial score. He would later redeem himself by recording a 28 yard sack of Tebow late in the 4th quarter, and recovering a fumble in the second quarter, which set up a Patriots' go-ahead FG. Jerod Mayo, after a rocky first quarter, finished with a team high eight (8) tackles, seven (7) of which were solos:
    GRADE: B-;

    3.) SECONDARY: Aside from allowing the Broncos to complete a 39 yard pass on a 3rd and 18 play, this unit acquitted itself pretty well against "The Tebows". As a group, they tackled fairly well, and were good enough in coverage to force several sacks by the DL. Aside from Demaryius Thomas (seven (7) receptions for 116 yards), the remaining Bronco receivers were held to a combined four (4) catches for 78 yards. Safeties James Ihedigbo and Sergio Brown each contributed six (6) tackles, five (5) of which were solos. Kyle Arrington added five (5) tackles, including three (3) solos. For the game, Tim Tebow completed just 11 of 22 passes, for 194 yards. In Denver...it's all about running the football: 
    GRADE: B;

    III. SPECIAL TEAMS: Outstanding kick coverage, particularly by Matthew Slater, Dane Fletcher, and Julian Edelman. Fletcher recovered a muffed punt with three seconds remaining in the first half, setting up a Patriots' FG. Edelman averaged 7.7 yards on three (3) punt returns, including a 14 yarder just before half-time. Solid job, as usual, by the kickers. None of those annoying block in the back penalties:
    GRADE: B+;

    IV. COACHING: Aside from the decision to rush just three, and play in prevent mode, on a 3rd and 18 midway through the fourth quarter, I have no complaints with the coaching, or play calling. But, that awful prevent defense decision nearly let the Broncos back in the game. Good adjustments after that awful first quarter to shut down the Denver running game. The Broncos only gained 100 yards on the ground during the final three quarters. 
         After seeing this game, it was obvious that the Pats' familiarity with playing in big games, and the poise and discipline of the BB coached team were too much for the Tebowites to overcome. Those two Denver fumbles and the muffed punt were too much for them to overcome...and seemed to drain their enthusiasms. 
         Horrible break losing Andre Carter for the season. But, with Baltimore and Houston losing, the Patriots are guaranteed a bye week in the opening round of the play-offs, if they can win their final games against Miami and Buffalo...both in Foxborough. A Pittsburgh loss Monday night in San Francisco would pave the way for the Pats to earn the top seed in the AFC:
    GRADE: B+;

    V. PLAY OF THE GAME: Leading 17-16, with 2:16 left in the first half, the Patriots were facing a 4th and one at the Denver 31 yard line. They chose to forego the FG opportunity, and went for the first down. Tom Brady stumbled as he took the snap, and had a Denver defender almost on top of him. Yet, Tom was able to get a flat pass off to Aaron Hernandez, who rumbled 25 yards, to the Denver 6 yard line. This play led to a TD, which increased the Pats' lead to 24-16. 

    VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tom Brady. Though I'm tempted to give the nod to TE Aaron Hernandez, Brady's cool and poise under pressure was never more evident than it was today. 

         Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=311218007

         As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.            

           


                             
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from palookaski. Show palookaski's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Thank you as always Texpat3 for a good report.

    Yes, Gronk and Wes were held back by the Broncos somewhat. I want to see more of Ridley and Woody in the run game from now on. They look good!

    wishing you a healthy and happy ....
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from BostonTrollSpanker. Show BostonTrollSpanker's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    another excellent feature, thanks!

    I think the D was more C+ or B- given the 1st quarter and the inability to get a big stop later in the game at 3rd and 18, but aside from those quibbles, overall a great win. 

    Looking ahead, the D wasn't too encouraging but did show some grit, more encouraging was the diverse and effective running game which bodes well as the cold weather kicks in.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from condognh. Show condognh's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Anderson is the player of the game for me
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from ATJ. Show ATJ's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Excellent summation TP3.  Brady was indeed as good as I've seen him in quite some time.  Good to see Ocho get that score.  Hernandez certainly did step up when the Broncs D focusedt on Gronk and Wes.  I agree with condogh that Anderson was huge on D.  Excellent observations on the D backs.  BB's defensive adjustments were a night and day difference after the 1st qtr embarrassment.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from TSWFAN. Show TSWFAN's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Who ever was blocking Von Miller did a hell of a job because I don't recall Miller being mentioned during the game.

     
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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Who ever was blocking Von Miller did a hell of a job because I don't recall Miller being mentioned during the game.
    Posted by TSWFAN[/QUOTE]

    Excellent point. 
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from darwk. Show darwk's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    One of the better Pats games this season. A complete game.  The mental and physical toughness of Brady is incredible. Adjustments to D scheme and execution by players after that cringe worthy first quarter was  a thing of beauty. I am struck by the high grade you gave the secondary. I have no complaints. A noteworthy improvement.
    The return of the RB's was another big plus. Mixing it up gave the Pats some real momentum.
    Anderson made a big impact in replacing Carter. I had no idea he was capable of that kind of play. Sorry to see Carter go out the way he did, and hope his injury has a fast recovery for him. He's been a bight spot for the Pats on and off the field this season.
    Herendez was a beast.
    Congrats to the Pats for winning the AFC East!
    Great game.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from nyjoseph. Show nyjoseph's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    The fumbles were forced fumbles.  Nothing gift-wrapped about them.
     
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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]The fumbles were forced fumbles.  Nothing gift-wrapped about them.
    Posted by nyjoseph[/QUOTE]

    Agree with the possible exception of the ST fumble.
     
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  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from NYC. Show NYC's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Tex
    The team and coaching staff deserve credit for going into Denver, a historically devastating place for the Pats to play and making the adjustments necessary in the 2nd Quarter to take control of this game. Kudos to the maligned Bill O'Brien?
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Thank you as always Texpat3 for a good report....wishing you a healthy and happy ....
    Posted by palookaski[/QUOTE]

         Thanks...same to you, my friend!
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from agcsbill. Show agcsbill's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Hey, Tex, why did you have to open up this report with the statement: "The host Broncos were clearly in the Christmas spirit today, as they were kind enough to gift wrap this victory for the Pats."?

    You have essentially, with that line, given NO CREDIT to the Pats defense, and minimized their effort, for making the plays that contributed to the turnovers.  Only one, the muffed punt, can be laid at the hands of the Broncos.  The other two were good plays on the part of the defense.  Also, after being gouged for over 150 running yards in the first quarter, the D stepped up for which you gave some credit.  You know what, Tex, it is almost like you hate to give good grades to the Pats and want some reason to reduce their success for some intangible reason, in your mind.  Just my two cents!
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]another excellent feature, thanks! I think the D was more C+ or B- given the 1st quarter and the inability to get a big stop later in the game at 3rd and 18, but aside from those quibbles, overall a great win.  Looking ahead, the D wasn't too encouraging but did show some grit, more encouraging was the diverse and effective running game which bodes well as the cold weather kicks in.
    Posted by BostonTrollSpanker[/QUOTE]

         At first, I graded the DL a "B-", and the LBs a "C+", because of the poor first quarter. But, the "D", with the exception of foolishly rushing just three on that 3rd and 18 in the 4th quarter, completely shut the Tebowites down thereafter. It may have been the best three quarters that the "D" has played all season.
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Anderson is the player of the game for me
    Posted by condognh[/QUOTE]

         He certainly was the defensive player of the game. 
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from MuellerTime19. Show MuellerTime19's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Hey a Ron Brace sighting also! He looked fast on that play. Fast and BIG. I hope this is a sign, but I am not holding my breath.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]The fumbles were forced fumbles.  Nothing gift-wrapped about them.
    Posted by nyjoseph[/QUOTE]

         The really good teams don't make such mistakes. They are not tolerated. If the Pats were down 16-7 to the Baltimore Ravens or the Steelers going into the second quarter, do you think that the Pats would have been the recipiant of two fumbles and a muffed punt?

         Look at the shot Brady took from Elvis Dumervil. But...he held onto the ball.  
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Tex, Great job as usual. Merry Christmas!
    Posted by bobbysu[/QUOTE]

         Thanks. Merry Christmas to you too, bobbysu!
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Hey, Tex, why did you have to open up this report with the statement: " The host Broncos were clearly in the Christmas spirit today, as they were kind enough to gift wrap this victory for the Pats."?
     
    RESPONSE: Because it's the truth. Those three turnovers, plus the missed extra point, resulted in an extra 13 points for the Pats, plus one. Clearly, the game turned on those turnovers. 

    You have essentially, with that line, given NO CREDIT to the Pats defense, and minimized their effort, for making the plays that contributed to the turnovers.

    RESPONSE: That's your interpretation. But, given what I stated throughout my report card, I don't know how you can say that. I clearly credited the "D" for shutting the Tebowites down, after the first quarter. The defensive grades were good as well...but would have been a letter grade better...but for that awful first quarter. 

    Only one, the muffed punt, can be laid at the hands of the Broncos.  The other two were good plays on the part of the defense.

    RESPONSE: Though I agree that the Pats' defenders (Anderson and Brace, respectively), made good plays in stripping Tim Tebow and RB Lance Ball, the good teams do not put the ball on the ground. Can you remember the last time a Patriots' ball carrier was stripped of the ball? BB, for good reason, does not tolerate such things. Patriots' players know that if you fumble, you sit...or worse.  

    Also, after being gouged for over 150 running yards in the first quarter, the D stepped up for which you gave some credit.  You know what, Tex, it is almost like you hate to give good grades to the Pats and want some reason to reduce their success for some intangible reason, in your mind.

    RESPONSE: Every week the Pats play, I hope I can give out straight "A"s. But, I strive to be objective. If I handed out an "A" to everyone every time the Pats' win, what's the sense of evaluating the game? Some players play better than others. That said...Merry Christmas to you and yours, agcsbill!
    Posted by agcsbill[/QUOTE]
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from TFB12. Show TFB12's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Another good write uo TP!!

    Love how when Gronk is held in check then Hernandez has a good game.  Lots of options, just wish they had a deep threat to complete the offense.

    Play of the game to me was the Ocho TD after the Broncos marched down the field ands scored.  Wont be the play of the game to anyone else but me tho, lol!  When Tebow scored on the opening drive I got a little nervous because they did it so easy.  Then instead of a slow start Ocho gets free and scores, calming my nerves down.

     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from Paul_K. Show Paul_K's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    Coaching gets an A for cobbling together a defensive secondary out of duct tape and baling wire.  They aren't great by NFL standards, but considering what the team had to work with, it's more than respectable.  Now, 4 more weeks until the first big test.

    McCourty is a legitimate name.  Chung was out.  After that the quality of the junkpile players is sketchy.  Kyle Arrington was just some guy picked up last year.  Ihedigbo was picked up off of waivers this year, and I hope he's healthy.  Nate Jones was hanging around by the phone just last month.  Sergio Brown was a UFA on the practice squad during half of 2010.  Edelman wants to be Troy Brown.  Slater is jealous of Edelman's "new Troy Brown" label.
     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from maine12. Show maine12's posts

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     Very good evaluation. I thought Hernandez was was MVP because he made so much happen aftrer he coaght the ball. Im not sure what his YAC was but Im assuming it was alot
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]Another good write uo TP!! Love how when Gronk is held in check then Hernandez has a good game.  Lots of options, just wish they had a deep threat to complete the offense.
     
    RESPONSE: Can you imagine how lethal this offense would be with the addition of a Greg Jennings or a Mike Wallace at WR? I've put in a late request to Santa Claus for a deep threat...LOL!!! 

    Play of the game to me was the Ocho TD after the Broncos marched down the field ands scored.  Wont be the play of the game to anyone else but me tho, lol!

    RESPONSE: It was certainly a rarity...and a sight for sore eyes.

    When Tebow scored on the opening drive I got a little nervous because they did it so easy.  Then instead of a slow start Ocho gets free and scores, calming my nerves down.

    RESPONSE: Though my named "play of the game" was the 4th and one conversion, for 25 yards, by Aaron Hernandez, my second choice was the strip of Tim Tebow by Mark Anderson. It seemed to change the momentum of the game. It lead to a TD, cutting a 16-7 deficit to 16-14.
    Posted by TFB12[/QUOTE]
     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from gmbill. Show gmbill's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD

    In Response to Patriots @ Broncos REPORT CARD:
    [QUOTE]     The host Broncos were clearly in the Christmas spirit today, as they were kind enough to gift wrap this victory for the Pats. Two fumbles, a muffed punt, and a missed extra point aided in contributing 14 points to the Patriots' cause...not to mention a bevy of holding penalties, both offensive and defensive...and a face mask penalty. Still, only the good teams take full advantage of such breaks, as the Patriots did today. Here are my grades: I. OFFENSE: Balanced and explosive. After a semi slow start, the Patriots exploded in the second quarter, outscoring the Broncos 20-3 in that stanza...as the Broncos began bearing their gifts. 1.) QB: Aside from two misfires, one overthrown on a deep pattern in the closing seconds of the first half, and one underthrown short pass in the endzone, midway in the decisive second quarter, Tom was outstanding. He finished with 23 completions in 34 attempts, including two TDs, a rushing TD on a QB sneak, and, most importantly, threw no interceptions. Aside from the aforementioned two misfires, his accuracy and decision making was never better. Despite being without Deion Branch, and the fact that, by and large, the Broncos contained Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski, the "Terrific One" still found a way to get it done. Some of Tom's highlights were a 33 yard rope for a TD to a wide open Chad Ochocinco, a 19 yard completion to Wes Welker over the middle...which set up a TD in the 2nd quarter, a 25 yard catch and run with Aaron Hernandez on a 4th and 1 second quarter play, and a 38 yard short pass and gallop by Gronk.      On the aforementioned 4th and one conversion to Hernandez, credit Brady for recognizing the Broncos' stacked defense, and for calling a time-out to reset the play. Credit Tom too for being one tough hombre. How he held onto the football when he was de-cleated by Elvis Dumervil early in the 4th quarter is beyond me. Also...credit him for a couple of rugged, head-first, QB sneaks...one to score a TD, one to pick up a first down, and a couple of others to run off some clock in the 4th quarter: GRADE: A; 2.) RBs: Collectively, this was this unit's best game of the season...and most productive game overall, since the win over the Jets in Foxborough. Stevan Ridley finally ran today like he in the pre-season, finishing with 65 yards on 11 carries, including a 4th quarter 24 yard, tackle-breaking, sideline run. Danny Woodhead added 40 yards on 7 carries, including a 3rd quarter, water-bug like 10 yard burst on a draw play, to put the Pats up, 34-16, in the third quarter. BJGE had only 17 yards on 10 carries...but scored the Pats game clinching final TD, on a one yard run. Credit Bennie also with a 21 yard catch and run on a safety valve dump-off. In all, the Pats rushed for 141 yards on 36 carries. It was enough to keep the Broncos' defense honest for the majority of the game: GRADE: B+; 3.) OL: A missed assignment, seemingly by rookie RT Nate Solder nearly got Tom Brady killed. That, and a couple of uncomfortable moments involving center Ryan Wendell (holding penalty and a couple of adventuresome center exchanges with Brady in the 3rd quarter), were the negatives. Other than that, this may have been the most complete game played by this unit in a while. The Big Uglies gave the "Terrifc One" plenty of time to work his magic...and, for a change, actually opened up some running room for the RBs...particularly Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. But...they can't ever allow a defender to get the kind of clean shot at Brady that Elvis Dumervil got. GRADE: B;     4.) TEs & WRs: Usually, when discussing the TEs, their performance as a unit is either good or outstanding, with Rob Gronkowski getting the top billing. The performance of the TEs was outstanding again, but this time, the top billing goes to Aaron Hernandez. With the Broncos constantly double-teaming Gronk, Hernandez stepped up, and had his best game as a pro. He finished with 9 receptions for 129 yards, and a TD. His runs after catches were particularly outstanding, such as the above mentioned 25 yard fourth and one conversion, and on a 22 yard catch and run, which set up the final Pats' TD.      Though Gronk was held to just 4 catches for 53 yards, he came alive in the 4th quarter, and turned in a nifty 38 yard catch and run on the Pats' final scoring drive. Usual good job of blocking from Gronk as well, at the point of attack.       As for the WRs, though they only produced a combined six (6) receptions for 87 yards, one of those was the above mentioned 33 yard first quarter TD pass to Chad Ochocinco...one was the above mentioned 19 yarder to Wes Welker, setting up a TD, and another was 13 yard completion to Tiquan Underwood, to pick up a first down, and establish field position, on the Pats' initial drive of the 2nd half: GRADE: B+ ("A+" for the TEs, "C+" for the WRs); II. DEFENSE:  After an horrendous first quarter, in which the Broncos gouged the Pats' front seven for 152 yards on the ground, the "D" settled down, and gave an all-around solid effort. But, going into prevent mode, and rushing just three, on a 3rd and 18 in the 4th quarter, almost allowed the Broncos to get back in the game. 1.) DL: First, the real bad news. The Pats' most dependable pass-rusher this season, and pro-bowl DE candidate, Andre Carter, went down with what was diagnosed as an injury to his left quad, that will likely require surgery to repair. This being the case, it appears that Carter is done for the season: http://www.nesn.com/2011/12/report-andre-carter-could-need-surgery-to-repair-quad-injury.html      After a first quarter in which the Broncos dominated the line of scrimmage, and rushed for 152 yards, the DL began making stops. In addition, the DL applied consistent pressure to QB Tim Tebow. DE Mark Anderson, who replaced Andre Carter, had his best game as a Patriot. Anderson had three tackles (all solos), including two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Ron Brace also forced a fumble, and Gerard Warren, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick all made their presence known in the Denver backfield: GRADE: B; 2.) LBs:  Rob Ninkovick let Denver QB Tim Tebow get away from him, on the Broncos' initial score. He would later redeem himself by recording a 28 yard sack of Tebow late in the 4th quarter, and recovering a fumble in the second quarter, which set up a Patriots' go-ahead FG. Jerod Mayo, after a rocky first quarter, finished with a team high eight (8) tackles, seven (7) of which were solos: GRADE: B-; 3.) SECONDARY:  Aside from allowing the Broncos to complete a 39 yard pass on a 3rd and 18 play, this unit acquitted itself pretty well against "The Tebows". As a group, they tackled fairly well, and were good enough in coverage to force several sacks by the DL. Aside from Demaryius Thomas (seven (7) receptions for 116 yards), the remaining Bronco receivers were held to a combined four (4) catches for 78 yards. Safeties James Ihedigbo and Sergio Brown each contributed six (6) tackles, five (5) of which were solos. Kyle Arrington added five (5) tackles, including three (3) solos. For the game, Tim Tebow completed just 11 of 22 passes, for 194 yards. In Denver...it's all about running the football:  GRADE: B; III. SPECIAL TEAMS: Outstanding kick coverage, particularly by Matthew Slater, Dane Fletcher, and Julian Edelman. Fletcher recovered a muffed punt with three seconds remaining in the first half, setting up a Patriots' FG. Edelman averaged 7.7 yards on three (3) punt returns, including a 14 yarder just before half-time. Solid job, as usual, by the kickers. None of those annoying block in the back penalties: GRADE: B+; IV. COACHING: Aside from the decision to rush just three, and play in prevent mode, on a 3rd and 18 midway through the fourth quarter, I have no complaints with the coaching, or play calling. But, that awful prevent defense decision nearly let the Broncos back in the game. Good adjustments after that awful first quarter to shut down the Denver running game. The Broncos only gained 100 yards on the ground during the final three quarters.       After seeing this game, it was obvious that the Pats' familiarity with playing in big games, and the poise and discipline of the BB coached team were too much for the Tebowites to overcome. Those two Denver fumbles and the muffed punt were too much for them to overcome...and seemed to drain their enthusiasms.       Horrible break losing Andre Carter for the season. But, with Baltimore and Houston losing, the Patriots are guaranteed a bye week in the opening round of the play-offs, if they can win their final games against Miami and Buffalo...both in Foxborough. A Pittsburgh loss Monday night in San Francisco would pave the way for the Pats to earn the top seed in the AFC: GRADE: B+; V. PLAY OF THE GAME: Leading 17-16, with 2:16 left in the first half, the Patriots were facing a 4th and one at the Denver 31 yard line. They chose to forego the FG opportunity, and went for the first down. Tom Brady stumbled as he took the snap, and had a Denver defender almost on top of him. Yet, Tom was able to get a flat pass off to Aaron Hernandez, who rumbled 25 yards, to the Denver 6 yard line. This play led to a TD, which increased the Pats' lead to 24-16.  VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tom Brady. Though I'm tempted to give the nod to TE Aaron Hernandez, Brady's cool and poise under pressure was never more evident than it was today.       Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=311218007      As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.                                              
    Posted by TexasPat3[/QUOTE]

    You enjoyed that game and gave out the right scores. I would add an "A" for the Dumer hit on Brady. Even though I hate to see it on our guy, nice hit!
     
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