New England Patriots: 6 Keys to Stopping Tebow, Broncos in Week 15

Marc FreshmanContributor IDecember 14, 2011

New England Patriots: 6 Keys to Stopping Tebow, Broncos in Week 15

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    Tim Tebow is not a physically gifted quarterback. But if you know anything about him from his college days, you know his mental toughness is indestructible. 

    Not even being trash talked by John Elway is enough to rent out space in his mind. He’s so grateful to be alive and to be playing football and to have the opportunity to win; he doesn’t let things like getting hit wicked hard affect his brain. 

    So while hurrying his throws or knocking him down might temporarily stop him, it’s really not a long-term solution if the Patriots intend to win on Sunday. Tebow’s just going to get up, go to the bench and tell his guys they can still win.

    And they’ll believe him.

    So if blitzing Tebow isn’t enough to stop the Broncos, what is?

    Here are six ways the New England Patriots can win on Sunday. 

Play from Way Ahead

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    Load up on offense.

    Build a lead that’s just too big for Tebow to overcome in the fourth quarter. A margin of 21 points would be great, but 24 would be beautiful.

    If the Patriots only have a seven or a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, it’s trouble. That’s the kind of situation that makes the legend of Tebow come alive. So, if the Patriots can’t play from way ahead...

Play from a Little Behind

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    I never want the Patriots to be down in the fourth quarter because it gives me heartburn. But in this case, it may not be such a horrible reality. My first choice, of course, is to be up by three touchdowns and give Brady time to rest.

    But let’s say it’s the fourth quarter, and I have the option to be up by three points or down by three points. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I want that lead. But in this specific case against this specific team and this specific quarterback, being down by three might not be so bad.

    Tebow has proven he can steal games, but he hasn’t proven he can save games. If you can’t force him into a three-touchdown deficit, then force him to keep a lead. 

    I’d rather be down by a little than up by a little and have Brady pull a “Tebow” on Tebow. 

Overcome the Legend

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    What Tebow is doing right now isn’t sustainable. Rallying his team late in the fourth quarter to steal games might work for a while, but eventually, the wins will turn into losses.

    Realize that this Tebow phenomenon is like Handshake Gate: It’s only a big story until it’s not. Eventually, people will realize there are better things to talk about. 

    The legend of Tebow is only as famous as the chronic media attention it receives. If Brady breaks the legend, it’s done, and we’re right back to questioning Tebow’s mechanics.

Play 15 Minutes of Elite Defense

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    Gone are the days of asking the Patriots secondary to give you an entire game. The defense is what it is.

    Luckily, Tim Tebow plays defense on himself for the first three quarters, so my request is pretty reasonable here. I’m not asking for 60 minutes of great D. I’m not even asking for 30. 

    They can be the last-ranked defense for the first 45 minutes of this game, but Vince Wilfork’s squad needs to be the best defense in the league when the fourth quarter hits. 

    I want to see batted balls, picked throws, offensive miscommunication and mental mistakes, baffled tight ends, tackled runners and a crowd leaving early to beat the traffic. 

Return a Punt for a Touchdown

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    Have your special teams contribute. In a game like this where the offense and defense from both clubs is pretty predictable, special teams can be the X-factor. 

    Julian Edelman, specifically, can be the X-factor. I love this kid.

    If you’re Coach Belichick, pull Edelman aside and tell him to go get six points. It’ll emotionally lift the Patriots and crush the excitement of the crowd.

Rely on Mr. Reliable

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    When it comes to sticking daggers through hearts and minds, no one comes close to Wes Welker.

    Not only is Welker the No. 1 receiver in the NFL, he has over 100 yards more than the guy at No. 2. To put it in even better context, he has 218 more yards than Calvin Johnson.

    On top of that, he’s only the third player in NFL history to have 100 receptions in four different seasons, joining the likes of Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison.

    Every time Wes Welker scores, the other team dies a little inside. It’s a matter of his football IQ, which is off the charts. His ability to outwit a week’s worth of defensive planning is mind-boggling, and he does it all with his speed and his imagination. Teams see it, and they hang their heads.

    Gronkowski’s flashy touchdowns will put points on the board, and I’ll gladly take each one. But Welker’s touchdowns will emotionally crush the Broncos. 

    Bottom line: Wes Welker is the most reliable player on the New England Patriots, and this is the kind of game he lives for.