DENVER – For a long, happy era, the Broncos were flying right beside the Patriots. The Patriots were elite, and the Broncos were elite. When the teams met, entertaining football theater was almost guaranteed.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past day or so, I don’t need to tell you the era has ended.
The Patriots rampaged past the Broncos on a silent Sunday night on the edge of downtown Denver.
In Colorado, the good times are over.
In New England? The Patriots are, as always, roaring along as a favorite to return to the Super Bowl. The Broncos are facing a major rehab project.
Three reasons why the Patriots routed the Broncos:
One – Special teams
The Patriots blocked a punt and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The Broncos fumbled a punt. This was all in the first half. If the Broncos had delivered a normal special teams performance, this game might have retained a touch of drama in the second half.
When Dion Lewis broke into open spaces, on his way to a 103-yard touchdown, all of the Broncos chances for an upset, and a return to NFL respectability, were crushed.
Two – Tom Brady
Brady is in the discussion, along with Joe Montana, for the honor of the greatest quarterback of all time, but Bronco fans have seldom seen Brady at his best when he’s playing in Colorado.
We saw his methodical best on Sunday night.
He was patient. He was accurate. It wasn’t an effort filled with big thrills, but it was methodically effective.
And remember, the man turned 40 in August. Sorry, but there’s no end in sight for No. 12.
Three – The Broncos defense
Speaking of all-time best: Just two years ago, the Broncos were in the discussion for the finest defense in NFL history.
And even during this painful season, the defense has usually been sound, if not as spectacular as 2015.
Over the past two weeks, that mighty defense has been shredded by the Eagles and Patriots.