Sunday, January 15, 2012
Patriots, Brady end Tebow's miracle run
Getty ImagesThe New England Patriots ended Tebowmania in convincing fashion with a 45-10 rout of the Denver Broncos on Saturday night. The Patriots led 14-0 after the first quarter and 35-7 at halftime en route to piling up their most points and most total yards in a playoff game in franchise history.
Tom Brady matched a NFL playoff record with 6 touchdown passes in the Patriots' 45-10 win.
With the win, the Patriots snapped a three-game playoff skid, earning their first postseason victory since the 2007 AFC Championship game. New England also ended a three-game losing streak in postseason rematches dating back to its loss in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants.
Why the Patriots Won
Tom Brady lived up to his nickname, Tom Terrific, with a record-breaking performance against the Broncos. Brady threw for a franchise-record 363 yards and matched an NFL playoff record with six touchdown passes. He threw five scores in the first half alone, the only player in NFL history to do that in a playoff game.
Brady also continued his climb up the career postseason record charts, moving into fifth place on the all-time passing yards list, third place on the passing touchdown list and second place on the wins ledger.
He picked apart the Broncos secondary when Denver sent four of fewer rushers, throwing all five of his first-half touchdowns against the standard pressure.
In his last two postseason games (both losses), Brady had completed less than 60 percent of his passes when not facing extra rushers, and threw as many touchdowns as interceptions.
Rob Gronkowski was once again Brady’s favorite target, catching 10 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdown receptions matched a playoff game record and his 145 yards are the second-most in franchise postseason history.
Why the Broncos Lost
Tebow Time ran out quickly in the first quarter, when Tim Tebow was sacked and lost a fumble on the Broncos’ first drive of the game. At halftime, Tebow had fewer completions (3) than Brady had touchdown passes (5).
Tebow finished the game completing just 9-of-26 passes (34.6 percent), the worst completion rate in a playoff game with at least 25 attempts since Trent Dilfer connected on 30.6 percent of his throws in a 1997 Divisional Playoffs loss to the Green Bay Packers.
He really struggled throwing the deep ball, completing only 1-of-6 passes on throws at least 15 yards downfield, a week after he threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns on throws of that distance.
Tebow averaged only 8.5 air yards per attempt on Saturday, compared to an NFL-best 12.3 in the regular season.
The Broncos were also hurt by their inability to stop the Patriots defense from penetrating into the backfield. Excluding the kneel by Tim Tebow to end the first half, the Broncos had 14 negative plays, the most in a game this season. It is also the most in a playoff game since the Steelers had 14 in a 2007 Wild Card loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Stats of the game
That the Broncos magical season and playoff run ended in the Divisional Round was hardly surprising. Consider the odds that were stacked against them entering this game:
• Denver was the fifth team in NFL history to win a playoff game after reaching the postseason with a non-winning record in the regular season. All five have now lost their second playoff game.
• The Broncos were the sixth team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a regular-season point differential of -50 or worse. All six won their first playoff game and then lost their second one.