Bill Belichick loves to talk about the importance of “all three phases of the game.” Sunday night his players gave the Denver Broncos and a national TV audience a chilling lesson in what that means.
Powered by a special teams unit that helped create 24 points, the Patriots disemboweled the Broncos. And they were so dominant on offense and defense as well that Denver must have thought it was playing at sea level instead of a mile high.
The Pats defense gave up a half-dozen chunk plays, but it was tough in the red zone for the fifth straight game, and the offense scored on seven straight drives. That’s complementary football that was a compliment to the players, Belichick and his staff.
When it was done, Broncos coach Vance Joseph was so embarrassed he called for a sweeping review of every area of his team. What he’ll find is the gap between the Broncos and Pats is wider than the Gulf of Mexico.
Knowing he had tough matchups on the outside against cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Tom Brady conceded the point and undressed the Broncos secondary inside the numbers. Mostly, the emphasis was getting the ball out quickly to negate Denver’s pass rush, which brought the tight ends and running backs into play for 15 of his 25 completions (19 of 34 targets). He was 7-for-7 for two touchdowns to his backs because once again he attacked the Broncos’ weak spots rather than challenge their strength outside. This may sound like common sense but as most quarterbacks and coaching staffs prove every Sunday common sense is an uncommon trait in today’s NFL. That’s not true with Brady, whose three TD throws included a beauty to MIA Dwayne Allen. On that route, Brady had time to wait for Allen to fight off the line and out of the hold of linebacker Von Miller, then fend off a downfield chuck from linebacker Todd Davis before beating Miller on a turnout. Brady peeked left then threw right, just enough to the outside to give only Allen a chance to snag it. It was a perfect pass through a tight window and it came out before Allen made his final move because Brady realized Allen had outside leverage. The one time Miller put on pressure, Brady jumped at the last moment and dumped the ball to tight end Martellus Bennett wide open underneath. Linebackers Shane Ray and Todd Davis both let Bennett go to chase running back Rex Burkhead in the left flat. Davis should have stayed with Bennett but vacated the area and Bennett filled it,…