by Gus Ramsey
THE ANTI-TEBOW GAME
Disappointing loss for sure. Denver came out just the way I hoped they would, running the ball down the Patriots throats. As I said before, winning would require a hefty positive margin in time of possession. In the first quarter, it was something like 11:00 to 4:00 for Denver. Basically, this was the anti-Tebow game, a great first quarter followed by 3 quarters of so-so football.
GO FOR IT, ROCK!
When the Broncos settled for the field goal to go up 16-7, I almost tweeted a first guess but decided against it. My first thought was "Go for it! You've been pounding the ball down their throat so far." Then the Madden player in me said, "Put the points on the board. It's the Pats. You can't walk away from any drive empty handed. Besides, every time they go for it on short yardage, they get stuffed and I get mad they didn't run a QB sneak with Tebow." So I was first guessing my second guess. In the end, I think putting points on the board was the right call. It put them up two scores. If they had just held on to the ball in the first half...
CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY...
for the Patriots. The turnovers obviously were back breakers, basically giving the Pats 13 points. The Cosby one especially irked me. He looked like a guy who was thinking "This is a big game, I need to make a big play," so he tried and failed. Another time on a kickoff that was deep in the endzone, he tried to run it out, got tackled on the 11 and then slammed the ball into the turf with both hands. Again, trying to do too much.
The other sign that Denver was in over their heads was the 3rd and 24, hands to the face penalty on Robert Ayers. It was the first drive of the 2nd half, a chance for Denver to get a 3 and out, good field position and perhaps some momentum. The Patriots ended up punting anyway, but from midfield instead of from their own 20. Denver stated from their own 10 instead of somewhere around their 40 or better. In that situation Ayers should know to not commit a dumb penalty, get the stop and get the ball. Sloppy and stupid doesn't win games.
PAGING ELVIS AND VON... PAGING ELVIS AND VON
3. The number of fumbles the Broncos had? Yup. But also the number of tackles Dumervill and Miller combined for. Miller's tackle came on a fumbled snap. Dumervill's sack came when he was unblocked. A disappointing effort from those two. Their inability to get to Brady forced Denver to blitz more and Brady picked them apart. As noted by ESPN's Stats and Information Department, Brady completed over 80% of his passes against the blitz for a QB rating of 146.5.
Brian Dawkins isn't the player he used to be, but the Broncos defense has played significantly worse this year when he hasn't been on the field. Once New England went to their no-huddle and picked up the pace, they had their way. Having Dawkins on the field would have helped with that and I think he could have helped against the tight ends. Speaking of the tight ends, can we stop saying guys like Gronkowski are athletic "for a big guy?" It's 2011. There are a lot of big, athletic human beings walking the earth, and they have been for decades.
That's what all of Patriot Nation did on the hit Dumervill put on Brady. Tom never saw Elvis coming, but we all did and for that split second before contact everyone watching thought, "I'm about to see Tom Brady killed on the football field." Also, typical of the day, Brady held onto that ball. That could have been a big turnover.
SECOND-ARY TO NONE?
I thought the Patriots secondary was the worst ever? If that's true, then the Broncos receivers are really bad because other than on play-action fakes, no one was getting open. I suspect the Pats secondary rose to the challenge and played better than they have all year, but it is alarming for the Broncos that Denver receivers had trouble getting open throughout the game. Somewhat related, what happened to screen plays and some usage of the tight end? They have both seemed to disappear in recent weeks.
NOT "CAN IT LAST", BUT CAN HE LAST?
This was the first game I thought, "Wow, Tebow is getting banged around." He may evolve into a decent QB, but if the average life span of a NFL running back is 4 years, Tebow's can't be much longer. Can you see him running like this 4 or 5 years from now? I know he'll still be young, big and strong, but that's going to be a lot of pounding he'll be taking. By the way, if this game was a Madden game and a Tool Shed player was controlling the Broncos, he would have pulled the plug after the 4th and 17, 25 yard scramble around and sack play.
IT'S GOING TO BE OK
The good news for the Broncos is, by Christmas day they will be in the playoffs. They will beat the Bills in Buffalo. The Lions will outscore the Chargers something like 42-35. And Kyle Orton will help lead the Broncos to the playoffs by leading the Chiefs past the Raiders at home. So it'll be on to the playoffs, with a week to rest up McGahee, and face the Ravens. I'll save this for when it happens, but I like Denver's chances against Baltimore.
I started the season with my Tebowmeter at a 5.5
WRs weren't getting open). He was sacked four times and harried many more. It felt like his first two games when he was sacked 13 times. Much of his passing success this season has come when defenses change to cover 2 or soft zones with the lead. Belichick did no such thing and Tebow was unable to complete a lot of passes on the non-playaction plays. Did anyone else notice at the end of the game the Patriots blitzed a LB at the left side of the line on almost every play, making it impossible for Tebow to roll left. It was like they side, "Go ahead, find an open receiver in 3 seconds, bet you can't do it."
Tebow also continues to ignore his check-down receivers. There were more than a few times when a back was open in the flat for a nice 5-6 yard gain, but he tried for the bigger play down field.
I no longer hold my breath every time Tebow puts a pass in the air, and he could use a few more weapons around him, but there is still much work to be done for Tim Tebow to be an upper tier NFL quarterback.