Looking back at Pats-Broncos, Part 1

The Patriots beat the Broncos, 41-23, on the road in Week 15. Here are some things to know about that game:

* The Broncos had 167 yards rushing in the first quarter as the Broncos ran out to a 13-7 lead. At that point, the Patriots scrapped their defensive gameplan and changed things up, a move that made all the difference. After the first quarter, Denver rushed for just 67 yards on 16 carries. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't also acknowledge that Broncos running back Willis McGehee, who had rushed for 70 yards on 7 carries in the first quarter, was knocked out of the game with an injury.

* The Broncos kept Rob Gronkowski (4 catches, 53 yards) and Wes Welker (4 catches, 41 yards) in check, but as a result Aaron Hernandez had a big day. He caught 9 balls for 129 yards and a touchdown. Deion Branch missed the game with an injury, and Chad Ochocinco caught his only touchdown pass of the season.

* The game shifted in the second quarter, when the Patriots took advantage of three Broncos turnovers -- all on their own side of the field -- in a span of 8 1/2 minutes. The Patriots turned those takeaways into 13 points to turn a 16-7 deficit into a 27-16 halftime lead.

* Tim Tebow was solid against the Pats, throwing for 194 yards on 11 of 22 passing and rushing for 93 yards and two touchdowns, but Tom Brady was even better. He gashed the Denver defense for 320 yards on 23 of 34 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

* Here’s more from that Dec. 18 matchup at Mile High:

Mike Reiss' take | Tedy Bruschi's take | Hernandez's big day | Game recap