Raise your hand if you thought the Broncos had any chance to win yesterday. Anyone with their hand up is a boldfaced lier. No one expected the Broncos defense to be that god or for Peyton Manning to protect the ball the way that he did. The biggest surprise though, comes in the defense completely destroying the Patriots in all facets of the game. Yes Brady had over 300 yards and Gronk had over 100. But Brady got those yards because they refused to run the ball so the short passes eventually added up. However, the Broncos defense made the offensive line look like a high school junior varsity squad. With Aquib Talib and Chris Harris shutting down Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola for the most part.
Coming into Sunday, the Patrtiots were undefeated with Edelman on the field. Edelman attacked the short routes while Gronk punished the defense deep. But on Sunday the only receiver that could do anything was Gronk. The Broncos put into effect a gameplan that systematically shut down the Patriots. With the offense doing barely anything, Wade Phillips had to have his defense be almost perfect for the Broncos to stand a chance.
This gameplan that Wade Phillips developed, attacked the few chinks in the Patriots offense. First they jammed the receivers at the line. Edelman and Amendola were constantly knocked off the ball at the snap and were forced to reroute their routes. Aquib Talib and Chris Harris were physical all game and continually were in the faces of Amendola and Edelman. This made Brady hold on to the ball longer as regularly his first and second reads were forced to take longer to run their routes. This development helped to make the second part of the gameplan even more effective.
Von Miller and the Broncos front seven constantly hassled Brady. Brady was hit a record 23 times yesterday. No quarterback can take that many hits and continue to be completely effective. By the end of the game, Brady was limping and in obvious pain. Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Malik Jackson consistently hit Brady and disrupted his timing as he spent most of the night on the run. Even when he was able to get the ball off he was hit. After so many hits the clock began to speed up in Brady's head. This is evident on the play where Miller recorded his interception. Rather than look to the next read, Brady forced the ball and didn't see Miller dropping back. Since he thought he didn't have time, he threw it right to where Miller was running and gave him possibly the easiest pick of his career.
The last part of the gameplan is actually the most surprising. Even though the stats might tell a different tale, on most plays Gronk was completely covered. Gronk racked up most of his yards on his long catches, but spent most of the night being completely covered and taken out of the game. He only started to slip out on long plays and towards the end of the game. This made Brady have to keep going through his reads.
It was obvious that Brady was never able to get comfortable in this game. The three phases of this gameplan made Brady so uncomfortable, that he forced passes and held the ball to long. The offense sputtered most of the game and could never really get going. Miller was a disruptive force and showed the world how much of a monster he is. Now if Wade Phillips can make an equally effective gameplan for the Super Bowl then maybe the Broncos will stand a chance against Superman and the Justice League from Carolina.