By Traci McCartney @traciamc
Patriots 16 Broncos 3
The New England Patriots won their 8th Division title in a row with a hard fought win over the Denver Broncos, Sunday. This wasn’t your usual Brady vs Manning, Patriots/Broncos rivalry game. This was a slugfest between 2 very good defensive teams.
The game started with a 3 and out by the Patriots, but when the Broncos muffed the punt and the Patriots recovered, it felt like this game was definitely going to go the Patriots’ way – and it did. They were only able to score a field goal, but that put the Patriots up on the scoreboard, and they never looked back. This is the first time the Patriots have won in Denver since 2011 – and that was with Tim Tebow at the Broncos’ helm.
Tom Brady completed only 16 of 32 passes (many were dropped) for a mere 177 yards and went without a touchdown pass. In fact, the only touchdown of the game came from a LeGarrette Blount rushing TD in the first quarter to put the Patriots up 10-3. But that’s where the Broncos’ scoring ended.
Trevor Siemian threw for more yards than Brady, but he was sacked 4 times: once each by Malcolm Brown and Jabaal Sheard, and twice by Trey Flowers. The defense stifled the Broncos’ rushing game, with newly acquired Justin Forsett, holding them to a total of 58 yards.
But it was turnovers that stalled the Broncos – they had 4. Ten points were scored off of those turnovers, including the touchdown after a Logan Ryan interception of Trevor Siemian and the aforementioned muffed punt. A fumble forced by Kyle Van Noy at the end of the 4th quarter, recovered by Devin McCourty, dashed any hopes the Broncos might have had of scoring again. Brady was able to take a knee and run the clock out.
What we didn’t hear all game was Von Miller’s name called. The Patriots’ defense did an excellent job of taking him out of the picture, with a nod to Marcus Cannon, who really held his own in this game. Brady was sacked twice for 11 yards lost, but neither sack was at the hands of Miller, and Brady was able to make plays when he had to.
Special teams did an excellent job as well. Ryan Allen’s punts consistently kept the Broncos starting deep in their own territory, making it harder for them to move the ball, especially with virtually no run game. And with Julian Edelman back to receive punts, Patriots fans felt better about limiting the possibility of a muffed punt, but it was replaced by a fear of Edelman getting hurt trying to return. Luckily, the Patriots came out of the game without any injuries.
The Patriots are currently the #1 seed in the AFC. With the win today, they’ve secured a first round bye in the playoffs. If they win one of their next 2 games, no matter what the Oakland Raiders do, they will end as the #1 seed and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Patriots’ next game is against the New York Jets on Christmas Eve in Foxborough, then on to Miami for the final game of the season on New Year’s Day.
As Brady says…LET’S GOOOOOOOO!!!!
Featured image courtesy: Jack Dempsey/AP
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