Can you pick just one? I had to limit myself to just the big plays because there were so many great moments. Maybe when I have a moment during the Bye Week I can scan for the "Best of Rob Gronkowski" or "Peyton Manning Faces". Until then, we have to just look at the best plays of the week.
And these are all amazing.
Rob Ninkovich hasn't been great this year. He's racked up sacks and has some pressures, but he's been a liability against the run and he just hasn't been his consistent self. Against the Broncos, however, Nink was particularly vintage.
The play starts up front. This is ultimate Patriots football. Look at who is on the line and rushing the quarterback. If you told anyone at the beginning of the season that Chris Jones, Casey Walker, and Akeem Ayers would be viable weapons against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, they would laugh. Mostly because Walker and Ayers weren't on the team at that point, but still.
Add in that Jamie Collins has been moved to inside linebacker and blitzed well and that Pat Chung is a coverage safety and doing a good job passing his man? Oh boy.
Dont'a Hightower's fake blitz helps this play by drawing the attention of the center and leaving the Broncos running back to stop a charging Collins. That generates initial pressure to hurry a Manning throw.
And then Ninkovich's drop. Look at how he flips those hips like a natural. It's beautiful. What a play.
IncrEdelman Punt Return
Does anything need to be said here? Yeah, the punt should have been blocked, but there's just so much beauty on this play. Look at Tim Wright (and Brandon Bolden) getting after the punter. Look at Pat Chung and Jonathan Casillas acting as the cavalry on his return. Look at Malcolm Butler getting so excited that he runs up the sideline in front of Edelman without actually blocking anyone and just being so gosh darn excited that he's on the team in the first place.
No one can say that Bill Belichick doesn't know how to pick up players off the scrap heap.
Oh, and then there's Julian Edelman. He's like a video game with his cuts. He's amazing. Everyone, just look at how amazing Edelman is.
Akeem on Ice
Have you ever seen a human become a rubber band? Let Akeem Ayers show you with a completely legal hit that's at Manning's thigh (see, you can wrap up and don't need to go for the knee). The Patriots rush three. Vince Wilfork is solo blocked by the left guard and he drives into the backfield. Dominique Easley is triple teams by the right side of the formation.
Wilfork gets so much depth on his drive that Ayers can just waltz behind and not worry about the left tackle any more.
Watch Manning go through his reads. He's looking at Jamie Collins on TE Jacob Tamme, but Rob Ninkovich has dropped into coverage. He's not making that throw. As Manning scans across the fi- OH MY GOSH IT'S AKEEM AYERS IN HIS FACE.
Go Go Gadget Gronk
We already know this is the winner. This shouldn't be possible. Welcome back, Rob Gronkowski. Welcome home.