To help Bronco fans get through the offseason, I am looking back on some of the games the Broncos have had against teams they will face in 2012.
The Broncos start off the second quarter of the 2012 season by heading east to Foxborough, Massachusetts – home of the defending AFC Champions. No doubt that this game will have a tremendous amount of media coverage and hype thanks to the renewal of the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady rivalry. Even though the Manning/Brady battle will be fun to watch, the game will still have a different feel to it because this is the Broncos and Pats, not the Colts and Patriots. The Broncos, in order to regain the league dominance and respect that they once had in the late nineties, must figure out a way to consistently compete with, and beat the New England Patriots, the current example of success for an NFL team. In 2011 the Broncos had two opportunities against the Patriots and unfortunately, came up short in both attempts; the second loss bringing the magical 2011 season to an end. Please continue reading for a brief overview of those two games.
December 18, 2011 (at Denver, Colorado): Two touchdown runs in the first quarter by Tim Tebow and Lance Ball plus a Matt Prater field goal gave the Broncos a 16-7 lead before Bronco mistakes allowed the Patriots to gain a foothold that they would never relinquish in a 41-23 victory. The touchdown runs by Tebow and Ball in the first quarter were soon forgotten when both players lost fumbles in the second quarter that New England converted to ten points giving them a 17-16 lead that they never gave up. As the first half was coming to an end, Quan Cosby muffed a Patriot punt that was recovered by Dane Fletcher, allowing Stephen Gostkowski to kick a 34-yard field goal as time expired, extending the Patriots lead to 27-16 as the teams headed to the locker rooms. Thoughts of a Bronco comeback surfaced midway through the fourth quarter when Tebow scored on a two-yard touchdown run bringing the Broncos to within eleven points. Those thoughts were put to bed once and for all when Tom Brady lead the Patriots on an 80-yard, game clinching drive that ended when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The loss, which ended a six-game winning streak for the Broncos, was the start of a three-game slide that would cause the Broncos to back into the playoffs.
January 14, 2012 (at Foxborough, Massachusetts): Following the exciting overtime victory against Pittsburgh one week earlier, the Broncos were in this AFC Divisional game right up until the coin toss. The Broncos won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half, meaning that Tom Brady and the Patriots would get the ball first. It didn’t take long for the playoff-experienced Brady to lead New England to their first score. Less than two minutes into the game, Brady connected with Wes Welker for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Game, set, match! Brady would go on to throw a total of six touchdown passes, five in the first half, as the Patriots crushed the Broncos 45-10. The loss, which not only brought Tebow Time to an end for the 2011 season, but permanently in Denver, proved that the Broncos must constantly continue to revamp their team, in order to compete with the “Patriot like teams” of the NFL. During week five of the upcoming season, when the Broncos return to the scene of this 2011 blood bath, let’s hope that Coach Fox will not defer if the Broncos win the coin toss!