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Patriots vs. Broncos: Game Thread #2

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Week 15 NFL Game Thread

Sunday, December 18th, 2011 | 4:15 PM ET

TV: CBS | Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Broncos Coverage: Mile High Report

First half thoughts:

  • Considering the way the Patriots were abused defensively in the first quarter, to rally off 20 straight second quarter points is certainly impressive.

  • The word "abused" probably isn't a harsh enough word to describe the Patriots first quarter defense. The Broncos ran for 169 total yards. The Patriots were supposed to be able to stop the run up the middle, but simply couldn't stop anything. The Broncos didn't throw too many tricks at the Patriots (aside from one reverse pass that failed), but were able to out-physical the Patriots at the line.

  • The key first half injury to watch: defensive end Andre Carter. He injured his left knee in the second quarter, and it didn't look pretty. With Carter out, the Patriots switched to a 3-4 front and actually saw some success, limiting Broncos runs and forced two fumbles, recovering the ball both times and scoring 10 points.

  • Offensively, the Patriots have had a good mix and match of personnel formations. They've spread the Broncos out, gone to a three tight end power set, etc. Chad Ochocinco has played a lot of snaps as the #2 receiver and caught a 33 yard touchdown on the Patriots opening drive.

  • Tom Brady has played excellent football thus far. He's only 12/21, but aside from two errant throws, has looked very accurate. He also has 171 yards and two touchdowns.

  • 83 of Brady's passing yards have gone to Aaron Hernandez. The Broncos have been consistently double-teaming Rob Gronkowski, and Hernandez has been abusing man coverage. Hernandez has six catches and a touchdown.

  • This game has been a mixed bag for the Patriots thus far, and their run defense was painful to watch in the first quarter. Nonetheless, the team has managed to capitalize on Denver mistakes and they are throwing the football well.