I was lucky enough to witness Tom Brady and the Patriots take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in an epic QB clash Sunday evening, and what I saw was good for the Patriots.
And bad for the other 31 teams.
New England took a 24-point lead midway through the third quarter against Manning, Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Willis McGahee and the Broncos. Tom Brady played like Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley was running for big gains at will, and Wes Welker caught 13 passes for over 100 yards.
Yes, the Patriots only won the game by 10, and a pair of gaffes by McGahee aided their win. However, they looked pretty darn impressive throughout the game. Unlike Denver, New England established the run game early on and created a dominant two-dimensional offense that rocked Denver’s defense. Stevan Ridley compiled 151 yards alone, while the Pats combined for over 250 yards on the ground.
Wes Welker caught 13 passes for over 100 yards and a touchdown, Brady snuck in for a touchdown (and followed that with his trademark spike) and before you knew it, Peyton Manning’s talented crew trailed New England by 24.
Bill Belichick seemed to take a conservative approach late in the game, because his team had such a comfortable lead. The pass rush dominated, the run game worked, and Brady was efficient, as usual. The result? A crucial win that lit up the crowd and propelled the Patriots back to the class of the NFL.
Gillette Stadium was rocking, and the Patriots were dominating. They didn’t even need Aaron Hernandez, the tight end who assists Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd and others in dominating defenses. If the passing game isn’t working, they can always turn to Ridley, Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen or Danny Woodhead.
Woodhead, who is probably the fourth-string running back, picked up a first down on third-and-17. When one running back is compiling good chunks of yardage, the Patriots kept handing it off to him and picking up yardage. This worked to perfection every time against an average defense and a great defensive line, which showed a lot about how dominant Brady’s crew can be.
As long as the Patriots don’t completely blow up, there is only a handful of teams that I think can beat New England. They now have a great running game to compliment a Hall of Fame quarterback,