Broncos v. Patriots Report Card

Quarterback Jake Plummer finally righted himself against New England as the Denver Broncos won, 17-7. He had two long touchdowns passes to Javon Walker and did a very good job managing the game. Read how the passing offense as well as all the other units graded against the Patriots.


PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Jake Plummer finally righted himself against New England. He had two long touchdowns passes to Javon Walker and did a very good job managing the game. He didn't have a turnover, which is critical for the Broncos this season. For at least a couple weeks -- Denver has the bye this week -- the calls for Plummer's job will quiet down.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Tatum Bell had 123 yards and should continue to be the Broncos' featured back. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan wanted to give Tatum Bell a chance to take a hold of the starting job and he seemed to. Denver didn't use a true rotation with Mike Bell, only using Mike Bell when Tatum Bell was tired.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos gave up a lot of yards, but most of them were empty. Denver was never in a lot of danger. The Patriots didn't have any receivers that scared the Broncos. New England refused to pass Champ Bailey's way, which limited the Patriots even further. Denver's defensive line got a decent pass rush on Tom Brady.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Denver shut down Laurence Maroney after knocking Corey Dillon out of the game. The Broncos gave up 18 yards on 12 carries to Maroney. They decided to make New England one-dimensional by taking away the run and it worked out perfectly.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Paul Ernster had a few nice punts. But overall the Broncos are having little luck in the return game. Darrent Williams made a couple bad decisions on punt return, including one in which he backed up to his own 1-yard line and was tackled. Quincy Morgan didn't have many chances to return kickoffs and make a favorable impression.

COACHING: A -- Denver has New England's number. The Broncos have won five of the last six against the Patriots. The game plan Sunday was simple but effective. They gambled that Tom Brady couldn't beat them himself, and they were right. The Broncos go into the bye week back on track after an opening week loss at St. Louis had everyone questioning if they would be a contender in the AFC.

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