Tom Brady picks apart Broncos’ defense in Patriots’ 41-16 rout

Tom Brady picks apart Broncos’ defense in Patriots’ 41-16 rout

The remarkable Tom Brady — 40 years old, going on 25 — didn’t need to play a starring role in New England’s 41-16 victory over the Broncos on Sunday night.

Not with the Broncos’ fumbling, bumbling, stumbling and troubling special teams giving the Patriots’ easy and early scoring chances.

“We did a really good job of running a balanced offense. It’s hard to play this team when they get a lead,” Brady said. “They start to tee off on you. But our special teams really put us in a good position.”

All Brady had to do was steer the ship. He put the Patriots ahead 7-0 with a 14-yard pass to running back Rex Burkhead, just two plays after the Broncos’ Isaiah McKenzie coughed up a punt at the Denver 24.

But when Brady got the opportunity to drive a stake in Denver’s heart, he did it with precision. And he did it twice.

Near the end of the first half, with the Pats holding a 20-9 lead, Brady led the Patriots on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dwayne Allen. The drive took just 2 minutes, 11 seconds, putting New England comfortably ahead, 27-9. It was as if Brady was tuning up his two-minute drill for the playoffs.

“That was a big drive (before the half). They had a couple of timeouts, so we wanted to move the ball but not too fast, and give them the ball back,” Brady said. “We made some big plays in the passing game and (Allen) made great catch for the TD.”

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In the third quarter, after Denver trimmed the lead to 27-16, Brady led the Patriots on another 75-yard drive. This one took seven plays and 3:18, ending with an 8-yard run up the gut by Dion Lewis. Patriots 34, Broncos 16. Game, set and match.

As great quarterbacks do, Brady exploited the exploitable. Denver’s defense has had issues this season covering tight ends and running backs, so nine of Brady’s first 12 completions found those targets. From that point on, Denver’s once dominant defense was reeling.

“I thought we had a lot of contributors tonight. Our running backs and tight ends were really involved,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

By the end of the night, Brady had put up some rather nifty numbers: 25-for-35 passing for 266 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.4. With the game well in hand, Brady gave way to backup Brian Hoyer with 4:32 left.

The Broncos have treated Brady rather rudely through the years. The future Hall of Famer was 6-6 against them in the regular season coming in, including a 3-4 mark in Denver, and just 1-3 in the postseason vs. the Broncos.

But these Broncos are not those Broncos.

While New England improved to 7-2, Denver stumbled to 3-6 with its fifth consecutive loss. In the past, the Broncos’ formerly vaunted defense had success by beating up Brady. In the 2015 AFC Championship Game, they decked him 20 times.

Sunday night, Brady was sacked only once for 6 yards and it was tough to find any grass stains on his uniform.

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