Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) looks to the sideline as New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner (39) celebrates his interception during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 43-21. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
2. Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner Proving Their Worth
The biggest reason Patriots fans had so much optimism coming into this 2014 season was because of their free agent signings on the defensive side of the ball.
New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004 mainly because of their mediocre defensive units, which is why Bill Belichick went out and signed the best corner in the game, and another elite corner to try and shore up their pass defense. And you could tell he signed these two guys almost purely for stopping this Denver offense. The Broncos like to rely on rhythm and timing with their receivers routes, so when you get physical at the line of scrimmage with them, you throw off their entire offense.
The final stats don’t look great (438 passing yards from Manning), but most of those yards came in garbage time, where the Pats were up 20+ points. When it really counted, Revis and Browner were dominating Denver’s wideouts, which made it extremely difficult for Manning to go where he wanted with the football.
However we can’t give all the credit to Browner and Revis, because the coaching staff, as well as the rest of the Pats’ defensive backfield had themselves quite a game as well. The coaches knew that you can’t do the same thing against Manning for 60 minutes, which is why New England didn’t play press coverage from start to finish. They mixed it up, sometimes dropping linebackers into coverage, or maybe having the defensive ends jam up the crossing routes. Bill Belichick has played Peyton Manning enough times to know what disrupts his offense, and he deployed that strategy perfectly for the Pats.
In addition, let’s give some major props to Patrick Chung, Kyle Arrington, and Malcolm Butler for their play in this one, as they held up just fine against the Broncos’ complimentary weapons while Revis and Browner dealt with the big boys.
Arrington has proven time and time again that he owns Wes Welker in the slot, Patrick Chung did a PHENOMENAL job against Julius Thomas, and Malcolm Butler filled in admirably for Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan matchup up with Emmanuel Sanders. For some reason Butler has risen above Dennard and Ryan on the depth chart, and while I still think Dennard is the better corner of the three, Butler more than held his own going up against this offense on Sunday.