The top five defensive plays of the game from the Patriots 41-23 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday:
5. 2nd and 14 from DEN 4, 15:00 in the fourth quarter: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Patriots defensive end Brandon Deaderick comes up with a would be strip sack of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow in the end zone. Only, instead of taking a safety, Tebow somehow recovered the football and throw the ball away. Nonetheless, the play results in a 3rd and 14 and helps the Patriots continue their second half dominance on defense.
4. 3rd and 8 from DEN 48, 5:16 in the third quarter: Mark Anderson comes up with one of his two sacks, on a key Denver third and 8. Anderson had come close to a couple of sacks, and when Tim Tebow tried to escape, Anderson would have none of it, pulling Tebow to the ground for a 10 yard loss. The stop halted a decent Denver drive and assured the Patriots' second half dominance.
3. 4th and 17 from NE 37, 2:29 in the fourth quarter: On a fourth and "prayer" situation, the Patriots deny Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow from his "Tebow Time", with Rob Ninkovich picking up a 29 yard sack on Tebow on fourth down. The play essentially sealed the outcome of the game.
2. 1st and 10 from DEN 46, 5:18 in the second quarter: DE/LB Mark Anderson sniffs out a Tim Tebow option and forces a fumble. A pile ensues, and Anderson is somehow able to come away with the recovery himself. Following the turnover, the Patriots used the short field to their advantage - taking a 24-16 lead with a Tom Brady one yard touchdown run.
1. 1st and 10 from DEN 23, 8:37 in the second quarter: With the Patriots yet to stop the Broncos on offense, Denver running back Lance Ball took the ball between the right guard and tackle. Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher knifed through defenders, and brought Ball down. However, as Ball was falling he exposed the ball and defensive lineman Ron Brace poked the ball loose, with the fumble being recovered by New England's Rob Ninkovich. The play helped give the Patriots defense some much needed momentum, and directly led to the points that gave New England a 17-16 lead.