Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesTim Tebow had trouble when the Patriots sent heavy pressure at him on Sunday.
The Broncos inability to perform up to the level they played in the first 15 minutes allowed Tom Brady and the Patriots to surpass them in the stat that counts the most-- points.
Tebow’s issues against teams that send five or more pass rushers on a play came into play on Sunday. He was just 3-for-9 for 53 yards, 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter. The Broncos had won four straight games with fourth quarter comebacks, but they had no such magic on Sunday.
Conversely, Brady was 10-for-12 for 172 yards and a touchdown when the Broncos sent at least five rushers. The Patriots knew the Broncos would be blitzing frequently. Denver had blitzed the second-most frequently of any team since Week 9.
One of the biggest stories of this game wasn’t so much Tebow or Brady, but Aaron Hernandez, who had a career-high nine catches and 129 receiving yards, two more yards than he had in his previous two games combined.
Hernandez had five receptions on five targets, including a touchdown, for 96 yards when the Broncos sent extra pass rushers.
The Tebow magic, most evident in the fourth quarter the last few weeks, was present early in the game this week.
Denver had 15 rushes for 167 yards in the first quarter (according to Elias, the most in any quarter against a team that had Bill Belichick as its head coach), 123 of which came before being contacted by a Patriots defender (both single-quarter season highs).
Though they averaged 8.2 yards before contact per rush in the first quarter, the Broncos only attempted 16 designed rushes in the last three quarters, gaining 68 yards before contact (4.4 per rush) and 85 total yards.
Tebow, who completed 60 percent of his throws in the first quarter, completed just 42 percent in the last three.
The Broncos fell to 18-1 all-time in games in which they had at least 250 rushing yards.
Tebow’s 93 rushing yards were the second-most he’s had in a game in his career.
Lions set NFL record
The Detroit Lions late rally to beat the Oakland Raiders made NFL history.
The Lions became the first team in NFL history with four comebacks from 13 or more points down to win in a single season.
Matthew Stafford became the third quarterback in Lions history to surpass 4,000 passing yards in a season (Scott Mitchell and Jon Kitna, with Kitna doing it twice).
Calvin Johnson’s 214 receiving yards were the third-most in a game in Lions history, trailing Cloyce Box (302, 1950) and Richard Johnson (248, 1989)
Vick keeps Eagles alive
The Philadelphia Eagles remained barely alive for a playoff spot by beating the New York Jets handily.
Michael Vick had one of the best days he’s had as a passer in a long time. He was 10-for-14 for 251 yards on throws traveling more than ten yards downfield
The Jets entered the game allowing a league-low 37.7 completion percentage to opposing passers on throws of that distance.
LeSean McCoy also had a big day, setting team single-season records for rushing touchdowns (17) and total touchdowns (20), both marks previously set by Steve Van Buren in 1945.
The Eagles are 9-0 against the Jets, which according to Elias is the best unbeaten record for one team against another.