Broncos Update Insider - 10/14

Last year, the Denver Broncos allowed 41 points to the New England Patriots and it seemed like it could have been much more.

By this point, comparing last year's Broncos to this year's team isn't fair. The defense has undergone a startling transformation under new coordinator Mike Nolan, and the latest display was a second-half shutout of the Patriots on Sunday.

"They played well and made the plays when they needed to make them," New England quarterback Tom Brady said. "They really tightened down in the second half."

The Broncos allowed Brady to throw for only 63 yards after halftime. A big key was sending a few more blitzes at Brady in the second half and disrupting him. The Broncos aren't a heavy blitzing team but after watching Brady carve them up in the first half, they had to change the approach a bit.

Denver got pressure on him without allowing too many big plays. New England had only one 20-yard pass after halftime. The Broncos have allowed only seven points in the second halves of games this year, and for the third straight game they didn't allow an opponent to convert on third down after halftime. New England was 0-for-7 on third down conversions in the second half.

"You can't let any quarterback sit in the pocket and have his choice of receivers," Broncos safety Brian Dawkins said. "Coming out after halftime, we didn't have to say anything. The guys up front let us know they were going to go out and get him down the second half."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Broncos coach Josh McDaniels was not thrilled with his special teams after beating the Patriots. Two bad penalties gave New England first downs on punts in the fourth quarter, but the Broncos overcame those mistakes to win anyway.

"In the kicking game, that is probably about as poor as you can play in the kicking game and win a game in the National Football League, I think," McDaniels said. "It was disappointing. Our special teams have been strength of ours so far this season and certainly weren't (Sunday)."

--Quarterbacks don't have an easy time learning Josh McDaniels' complicated offense, but Kyle Orton has been pretty impressive picking it up. Orton felt comfortable with Sunday's game plan and executed it almost flawlessly.

"It certainly felt like this was the best I have seen the field and the most prepared I have been," Orton said. "(I was) able to take the game plan and actually execute it the best. I should, and it should be the same next week and the week after. The more I am in this system, the more comfortable I should be, along with everyone else."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Peyton Hillis barely played against New England. He has been stuck as the fourth tailback, lost his kickoff return job and the Broncos aren't using the fullback too often, which doesn't give him many chances to get on the field.

--WR Brandon Stokley didn't catch a pass against the Patriots. He is the fourth receiver in the offense so he hasn't been getting a lot of snaps lately, after getting plenty the first few weeks while Jabar Gaffney worked his way back into the lineup from a broken thumb and Brandon Marshall got comfortable with the offense.

--WR Kenny McKinley only got one chance to bring a kickoff out of the end zone, but probably made a bad decision bringing it out from seven yards deep. McKinley has good speed and quickness, and the Broncos could keep trying him in that role as long as he secures the ball.

--LB Wesley Woodyard had a tough day in coverage against New England but the Broncos are showing a lot of faith in him by using him in almost all passing situations. Woodyard is fast and is a sure tackler, which keeps him on the field.

--CB Champ Bailey didn't get challenged nearly as much against New England as he did in the first few weeks of the season. Bailey is playing at a high level and as teams realize he hasn't lost much of a step at age 31, he could continue to see fewer passes his way.



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