Broncos focus on wrapping up Pats' receivers on contact
The Sports Xchange, Jan 12, 2012
The Broncos hope a two-tiered approach is
effective in the second go-round with the Patriots: fewer missed
assignments and fewer missed tackles.
"I think those are the two primary things,"
defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. "When you go back and look at
the tape, we made a lot of mistakes defensively."
Allen was referring to the teams' Week 15 meeting
in Denver, when New England won 41-23. The Broncos play at New England
on Saturday in an AFC divisional playoff game.
Denver knows that the Patriots' offense doesn't
need any help to be effective. In the Dec. 18 meeting, New England
quarterback Tom Brady got comfortable in the pocket, and he finished 23
of 34 for 320 yards with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score.
Busted coverage led to numerous yards after the
catch for New England, especially by tight end Aaron Hernandez, and led
directly to a touchdown reception by Chad Ochocinco.
"At times (Brady) knew right where to go and knew
the coverage and capitalized on that," Broncos safety Quinton Carter
Denver did a decent job against Patriots wide
receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady's two most
frequent targets. But, as great QBs do, they pick the matchup they can
best exploit and use that to their advantage while spreading the ball
Nine Patriots caught the ball Dec. 18, highlighted
by Hernandez's career performance. New England's second tight end was
targeted 11 times, catching nine passes for 129 yards, including a
"I think we did a good job of covering Gronkowski
in the first game. With Hernandez, we had good coverage, but we weren't
able to get him down on first contact," middle linebacker Joe Mays said.
"That's going to be big for us -- coming out and
tackling better. Keep the same thing and try to play great coverage and
just try to get them down on first contact, because that's what their
receivers thrive on -- getting yards after contact."
Overall seven Patriots made at least one catch of
12 yards or more, speaking to the difficulty of throwing off kilter a
team that's scored 37, 34, 38, 31, 34, 41, 27 and 49 points during a
season-ending, eight-game winning streak.
"Obviously, we've got to get more pressure on Tom
Brady somehow, someway and affect him more," Allen said. "I think we
hit him a couple times in the pocket, sacked him twice, but we didn't
really affect him enough in the pocket, and we've got to find ways to
SERIES HISTORY: 45th all-time meeting. Broncos
lead regular-season series, 25-17 and have won both postseason
meetings, 22-17 on Jan. 4, 1986, and 27-13 on Jan. 14, 2005. This is
the first time the teams have met in New England in the postseason.
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