The Patriots heard it not only all week, but all season: No playoff wins since 2007; Lost two in a row at home. All that talk was silenced tonight in resounding fashion as the Patriots took on Tebowmania and defeated the Denver Broncos 45-10. Tom Brady looked as good as we’ve ever seen him, minus one miscue, en route to throwing for 363 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brady’s biggest pass was a 61-yard strike to Deion Branch for a touchdown. Big credit goes to the offensive line as well as Brady wasn’t sacked by Denver’s vaunted pass rush.
Not only did they keep Brady upright, but the offensive line helped open up holes for the running backs, including TE Aaron Hernandez, who led the team rushing with 61 yards on 5 carries. Hernandez also had 4 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski shined once again in the passing game, catching 10 passes for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns.
While the offense put up a ton of points, the much-maligned defense may have stole the show.
The Patriots defense spoke about the need for playing disciplined football throughout the week to stop the Broncos’ option, and they did that for much of the night. The defense did a good job of bottling up Tim Tebow and preventing him from escaping the pocket and making plays, and when he did escape, he didn’t have much to work with. Tebow completed only 9 passes fro 136 yards and was sacked 5 times, including a strip sack by Rob Ninkovich on Denver’s first offensive drive. Tebow was also held in check running the ball, rushing for only 13 yards on 5 carries. As a team, the Broncos rushed for 144 yards, two less than the Patriots’ 146 total rushing yard, despite carrying the ball 10 more times.
Putting up 45 points is bound to set some marks, right? Tom Brady’s 5 first-half touchdown passes set an NFL record while his 6 total TD passes tied an NFL record. Rob Gronkowski tied an NFL record for TD receptions in a playoff game.
Now, the Patriots await the winner of Sunday’s Ravens-Texans game to see who they will host in next week’s AFC Championship game.