Broncos v. Patriots Report Card

Tom Brady hit a few big plays, but Champ Bailey's interception and 100-yard return changed the game as the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots to gain a spot in the AFC Championship game. Read how the Broncos graded out in the game.

REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- The Broncos had to rely on Jake Plummer more than usual because the Patriots stopped Denver's running game. Plummer responded well. He threw one interception but played well the rest of the time. Plummer has been solid all season even though people still think of him as the mistake-prone quarterback from his Arizona days.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The Broncos got their running game going only once, in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal. The rest of the time they struggled to get much going against New England's tough front. The Broncos averaged only three yards per carry, often not getting enough push up front to create lanes for the backs.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Tom Brady hit a few big plays, but Champ Bailey's interception and 100-yard return changed the game. Denver sent many blitzes at Brady and even though it left them vulnerable in the secondary and they gave up a few long catches, they forced plenty of mistakes that were a difference in the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk didn't have much room to run against the Broncos. Denver has been good against the run all season. Their defensive line played very well against New England, keeping blockers off of Denver's linebackers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Jason Elam hit a long field goal in the first half, which was set up by a Patriots fumble on a kickoff return. That fumble was caused by Todd Sauerbrun, Denver's punter who also handles kickoffs. Sauerbrun had a great game, helping the Broncos win the field-position battle.

COACHING: B-plus -- The Broncos' defensive plan was very good. They kept the pressure on Tom Brady by giving him many different looks and blitzes from all positions. They forced mistakes that New England generally doesn't make. The Broncos didn't get much going on offense, especially in the running game. But they made enough plays and took advantage of turnovers to win the game.



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