Patriots vs. Broncos: 4 Things We Learned About Denver in 41-23 Loss

Adam OdekirkContributor IIDecember 18, 2011

Patriots vs. Broncos: 4 Things We Learned About Denver in 41-23 Loss

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    The most hyped game of the regular season so far looked like it was going to deliver on its promises in the first quarter. Two AFC playoff contenders were exchanging hay makers on the scoreboard, and a classic seemed to be in the making.

    Unfortunately for the NFL, the Broncos lost their composure and fell apart in the second quarter and allowed the game to get away from them.

    The Patriots made sure that "Tebow Time" could not occur, and the Broncos fell to the Patriots in Denver.

    Here are four things we learned about—the still AFC West leading—Denver Broncos.

Youth Was Not Served

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    Youthful exuberance gave way to veteran poise in this contest, as the Broncos squandered a hot start and shot themselves in the foot.

    The Patriots looked like they were going to be delivered the knock out blow early by a confident and physical Broncos squad. Instead, the Patriots weathered the storm and gained momentum as the game went along.

    Whatever the reason for the miscues of the Broncos, they were costly and gave too many extra chances to a team that knows exactly what to do with them.

Broncos Linebackers Cannot Cover

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    Many experts were sure that the Broncos' linebacking corps would be exposed by a New England tight end—they just didn't think it would be Aaron Hernandez.

    Hernandez ran freely through the middle of the field, and beyond, exposing the lack of coverage ability that is now apparent for the Broncos line backing crew.

    Having Brian Dawkins might have helped ease this concern, but Brady seemed unaffected by the fact that Bailey was locking down Welker, and Gronkowski was double teamed most of the game.

    It really didn't matter which tight end that the Broncos committed most of their attention to, the fact that they had to divert so much help to one was inevitably going to benefit the other.

Too Many Turnovers

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    Order has been restored in the NFL, and the team that lost the turnover battle lost the game today. Unlike last week where Denver was bailed out by turning the ball over to an inept offense, this week Brady was not going to let chances slip by.

    Turnovers and mental errors allowed New England to keep the peddle to the metal and ensure that Denver had no time to engineer a magical comeback.

    An incredible rushing effort in the first quarter was rendered inconsequential, as the Broncos self destructed in the second quarter and immediately made it clear that rushing was not going to keep Denver in the game.

    It's always been the simplest point of discussion for the Broncos during their winning streak—they cannot overcome turnovers against quality teams.

Tim Tebow Fell Short of Tom Brady...

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    If anyone is surprised by that statement, they haven't been watching football too long.

    Those who expected to see Tebow out duel Brady on the stat sheet were fighting a losing battle from the start. That doesn't mean that Tim Tebow didn't have an equal opportunity to lead his team to victory today, but he was never going to do it by throwing over 35 times like Brady.

    Trying to force a comparison between Brady and Tebow statistically sheds no light on either players effectiveness as a quarterback. The first quarter was shaping up to be a great juxtaposition of Tebow's wide open running attack vs Brady's high flying passing game.

    Sadly, the turnover battle short circuited Tebow's ability to continue playing his style of game. Maybe more work will allow Tebow to compete more regularly through the air, but for the time being, the Broncos need to protect the ball in order to protect their chances of winning.