28-20. That is the number that Broncos fans will probably be saying to themselves as they go to sleep every night this week. Yes, the Broncos did indeed beat the Patriots in the beginning of the season. Yes, the game wasn't even as close as the score suggests. Yes, the Broncos are comprised similarly. However, the Patriots are not.
Tedy Bruschi's name is not on the Patriots injury report this week. That's one difference. Richard Seymour will be playing. There's another difference. Corey Dillon will be playing. One more difference. Kevin Faulk will be playing. Another difference. Troy Brown will be playing. Yet another difference. Vince Wilfork, Roosevelt Colvin, Ben Watson, and the entire offensive line have all played much, much, much better lately than they did in week 6 against Denver. We're a totally different team now and I think it will show on the field.
Let's look back at why we lost in week 6. Drive by drive. We started off with the ball, but the drive stalled at midfield, thanks in part to a no gain 1st down run by Amos Zeroue. Brady was also throwing only to Givens and Branch, the only truly dependable receivers at the time.
The Pats stopped the Broncos in three plays but failed to fully capitalize on good field position. We had the ball on the Denver 30. Zeroue got 2, then he got 2 more, then there was a holding penalty which set up 3rd and 1, then Pass got stuffed for no gain. We then kicked a field goal but with a running game we mightv'e gotten more out of the drive.
The Broncos punted, then we punted, pinning them back to their 3 yard line. Then we let up a 72 yard pass play. Duane Starks, who is no longer an active member of the team, was the cover man who got burnt on the play. The Broncos easily got the 5 additional yards for a TD.
The Pats began their response drive with a gift from the Broncos, a roughing the passer play. The Pats felt so touched by this gesture that they lost 5 yards on a 1st down run by Amos Zeroue. The Pats eventually punted.
The Broncos next drive was highlighted by a 55 yard pass to Ashley Lelie. He was covered by...Duane Starks. A few all too easy running plays and the Broncos were in the end zone again.
After a few exchanges of posession, the Broncos got the ball and Tatum Bell busted a 68 yard run through the middle of the Patriots defense. Guess who plays there? Wilfork, Seymour, and Bruschi!
That was the first half and that was pretty much the game. The Broncos sealed it with a drive to begin the 2nd half. They were up 28-3 and sat back while we finally woke up and tried to get back into the game. We couldn't, though.
I think the Patriots are going to play much, much, much better than they did back in October. I think they're going to pressure Plummer much better, protect against the deep ball better, and figure out Denver's routes. The Patriots defense plays QBs much better the 2nd time they face them in a season. The TD-INT ratio is reversed. The running game will be difficult to stop, but if we can score points and force them to pass the ball, we'll be in great shape. I think we will score points. Our offensive line is playing great, our run game is solid overrall, and Brady is rolling along with the receivers.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Broncos 20
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Joe Thornton never had a chance to help his new team beat his old team. He was ejected within minutes of the outset of the game for a check from behind on Bruins defenseman Hal Gill. Gill was injured on the play and Thornton got a game misconduct for the hit. The Sharks didn't really need him as they went on to an easy 6-2 victory over the lowly Bruins.
Jim Rice fell just 53 votes and 9% short of the required votes to be elected into the Hall of Fame. This was his best chance to get in due to the lack of any standout players on the ballot this year. Only Bruce Sutter got in. Next year, however, Ripken, McGwire, and Gwynn will all be eligible for election. Tommy John somehow got 154 votes.
I think Rice deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was an all-star 8 times, the MVP of the 1978 season. He has a .298 career average, 1,451 RBI, and led the league in HRs 3 times. If Ozzie Smith and his .262 batting average, 26 HRs, and 793 RBI are in the hall, I think Jim Rice deserves to be in there as well.