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Week 5 Game Recap: New England Patriots 17, Denver Broncos 20


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, Pass: 19 - 33 - 215 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0

Brady was only sacked one time, but the Broncos defense did a good job of getting to the quarterback. Even after he delivered the ball, the defense would get a hand on him, just to let Brady know that they were there. Brady was looking underneath on most of his throws, but did take a few shots downfield. Again, the Broncos blitz got to him as he overthrew Moss wide open in the end zone as cornerback Jack Williams came in and made Brady change his throwing motion at just the last second. The Patriots picked up most of their passing yardage in the first half, as Brady only threw for 63 yards in the second half. When left tackle Matt Light left the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter it forced the Patriots to leave one more man into block, thus taking one receiving option away. The Broncos were regularly lining up 7 and 8 men in the box, and knowing Brady's tendencies based on the pre-snap coverage shown really helped Denver know where the ball would likely go.

RB Sammy Morris, Rush: 17 - 68 - 0, Rec: 2 - 39 - 0 (3 targets)

Morris was running hard all day against the Broncos, and did a good job of taking what the defense gave him while picking up yards after contact. Facing 7 and 8 in the box regulary, many times Morris had to just lower his head and keep his legs churning to pick up yardage. Morris contributed a couple of times in the passing game, and showed good patience -- allowing his blocks to set up in front of him on a big 35-yard screen pass.

RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 4 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (3 targets)

Faulk was his usual effective receiving threat out of the backfield. He was able to gain separation against the Broncos assigned to covering him, and after the catch he was able to pick and slide for extra yardage. He was a willing inside runner, but Denver quickly took him to the ground anytime he ran the football.

RB Laurence Maroney, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0

Maroney had a good day running the football, but only received limited opportunities as the Patriots featured Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk more. He did a good job of following his blockers and driving his legs when he carried the football. Maroney didn't make too many moves behind the line of scrimmage, but did make subtle moves that helped set up defenders on the second level. One of the reasons he may not have had more playing time is his failure in pass protection. He completely missed on linebacker Andra Davis as he was blitzing up the middle, and it forced Tom Brady to throw the ball away as he was getting dragged to the ground.

WR Wes Welker, Rec: 8 - 86 - 1 (15 targets)

Welker was targeted 15 times on Sunday, and he did a good job of setting up defenders before breaking off his route. On Welker's touchdown catch he ran a 5-yard stop route where he turned to the outside. As soon as linebacker Wesley Woodyard broke outside, Welker quickly ran where Woodyard used to be and found himself wide open for six. Later in the second quarter Welker was injured as he went low to scoop in a pass. All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins crushed him in the back as he was going to the ground, and Welker was in obvious pain. He was able to come back later in the game and the injury didn't seem to bother him in the second half.

WR Julian Edelman, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)

The rookie was getting open underneath, and many of Brady's targets were thrown short as the Broncos took away the deep routes. The former quarterback knows how to find the soft spots in a zone, and does a good job of squaring his shoulders and giving Brady the biggest possible target. Edelman also did a nice job of coming back to the football which naturally prevents a defender from making a play on the ball.

WR Randy Moss, Rec: 1 - 36 - 0 (4 targets)

Randy Moss had two catches on Sunday. One from Brady, and one from Kyle Orton. His first catch of the day was actually an interception at the end of the first half. The Broncos lined up and threw a hail mary at the end of the second quarter, and Moss was in playing defense. He intercepted a pass intended for Jabar Gaffney on the 1-yard line as time expired. It was Kyle Orton's first interception of the year, but Moss wasn't finished there. Brady had targeted Moss a couple of times (including one that was overthrown when he was wide open in the end zone) but both had missed their mark. In the third quarter Brady found Moss on a deep slant over the middle. Moss hauled in the catch and it looked like he was going to pitch the ball back to Wes Welker who was running behind him. Instead he held onto the ball as he was getting tackled on his only offensive reception of the day.

TE Ben Watson, Rec: 2 - 13 - 1 (2 targets)

Watson was able to take advantage of second-year linebacker Wesley Woodyard on his touchdown catch. He lined up on the right side of the offensive line, and ran a crossing route to the left. Woodyard mistakingly thought he was playing man coverage instead of zone, and Watson ran right by him. Brady found Watson quickly and zipped the pass into the end zone for the score.

TE Chris Baker (2 targets)

He was used primarily as a blocker because the Patriots were very concerned about the Broncos pass rush. Baker helped Matt Light block outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil on the left side, and did a good job of stopping him for the most part. Baker did have a 3-yard reception, but it was reviewed and deemed incomplete as the ball hit the ground before he could maintain control.


Denver Broncos

QB Kyle Orton, Pass: 35 - 48 - 330 - 2 TD / 1 INT

This was the first week Orton played without a glove on his throwing hand, and he commented before the game how he had a better feel of the football and that he trusted himself more without the glove. That confidence showed up on Sunday as Orton threw the ball 48 times against the Patriots. The Broncos debuted their "Wild Horses" offensive formation, which is their version of the Wildcat. Instead of bringing in a Wildcat QB, the Broncos instead would often line up Orton out wide and then motion him back under center. Starting a play in this formation simplifies the defensive look, and the Broncos had plenty of success both running and passing out of the Wild Horses formation. Once again, Orton was safe and effective when distributing the football and his one interception on the day came on a hail mary pass at the end of the second quarter. In addition to changing up their formations, the Broncos also substituted a lot of players in and out of the game which seemed to confuse the New England defense. The primary mismatch the Broncos looked to exploit was cornerback Leigh Bodden on Eddie Royal. Orton did a good job of looking off defenders, only to hit Royal on a timing route.

RB Knowshon Moreno, Rush: 21 - 88 - 0, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 (5 targets)

The Broncos started the day running their Wild Horses offense, with Moreno running the show. During training camp the Broncos worked out of this formation, but it was veteran Correll Buckhalter that lined up as the Wildcat QB. Moreno did a good job of reading the defense out of this formation, and his hard charging style is perfect for picking up yards between the tackles. Moreno did a good job of keeping his feet moving after contact, and would spin and push for as many yards as he possible could each time he ran the football. He showed great patience as a receiver out of the backfield, and picked up big yardage on a screen pass when the Broncos were driving late in the fourth quarter. Moreno did get a little careless with the football, but when the game was on the line he was covering up the rock with both hands

RB LaMont Jordan, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0

Jordan didn't get as many touches as some had thought with Correll Buckhalter out with an ankle injury. He came in and ran the ball hard when he got the opportunity. Jordan would spin, and drive to pick up extra yardage after contact. He also did a nice job late in the fourth quarter in pass protection when the Patriots were trying to turn up the heat on quarterback Kyle Orton.

RB Peyton Hillis

It looks like Hillis may be in coach McDaniels doghouse, as he barely made it onto the field for any offensive snaps on Sunday.

RB Correll Buckhalter

Buckhalter missed this game with an ankle injury.

WR Eddie Royal, Rec: 10 - 90 - 0 (15 targets)

Finally! Eddie Royal was a big part of this Broncos passing offense, and it seemed like Denver went out of their way to exploit Leigh Bodden. The cornerback was giving a big cushion to Royal early in the game, so the reads were easy and the passes were short. However, later in the game Bodden started to play tighter on Eddie Royal but to no avail. By that time Orton and Royal were in the zone, and the chemistry was obvious as Orton threw passes where only Royal could snare them. Throughout the whole game Royal was confusing Bodden, and finally seemed comfortable running option routes. Royal's only bad play of the game was when he fumbled a punt that was recovered by his teammate, cornerback Jack Williams. Royal was not trying to do too much when he got his hands on the football, and was the primary read on several pass plays.

WR Brandon Marshall, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 8 - 64 - 2 (11 targets)

Once again the Broncos were looking to Marshall early and often. The first pass they threw out of the Wild Horses formation was to Marshall as they tried to soften up the defense with a short pass to later on set up a deeper look. Marshall is healthy and motivated, and now looks excited to be involved in the offense after starting off the season slow. His make-you-miss ability is legendary, and was key on both of his touchdown receptions. Marshall is hard to cover one-on-one and was simply a physical mismatch against veteran Shawn Springs. Orton threw short to Marshall near the goalline, and the big receiver was able to turn inside, muscle the ball in, and get into the endzone. Later in the game when the Broncos needed to tie it up Orton looked Marshall's way again. Marshall was able to juke and stretch his way into the endzone after breaking free near the sideline. As great as those plays were, perhaps his best play of the day came on an incomplete pass. With around seven minutes left in the second quarter Kyle Orton had his pass batted up high in the air and behind the line of scrimmage. Marshall came off a short crossing route and split through Patriots defenders -- but not to try and catch the ball. Instead, he used his incredible vertical to sky over the defense, and promptly swatted the ball to the ground. It was a great play, and shows just how dialed in Brandon Marshall is now.

WR Jabar Gaffney, Rec: 6 - 61 - 0 (8 targets)

The Patriots respect the skill set of Jabar Gaffney, and were sometimes double teaming him to prevent a big play. Gaffney did a good job getting open against his former team, and did a lot of his damage on underneath routes. An underrated part of Gaffney's game is his run blocking, and he was doing a good job of turning his man away from the play. He even caught a circus catch that was tipped by Brandon McGowan and almost intercepted by the Patriots. Gaffney cut through four defenders to grab the pass and turn a disastrous play into a first down. It's evident just how much trust Kyle Orton has in Jabar Gaffney.

WR Brandon Stokley (1 targets)

Stokley was once again not very involved on Sunday, and was only on the field when the Broncos lined up in four wide receiver sets. He did get targeted with one pass, but that was broken up by Brandon McGowan underneath. Stokley did not do a good job of setting up his route, and that allowed the cornerback to make a play on the ball.

TE Tony Scheffler, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (5 targets)

Tony Scheffler worked hard as a receiver on Sunday, and he also was a tremendous help in pass protection. Scheffler is a matchup nightmare, and the Broncos made sure to get him involved in the passing game. He was mostly used outside the hashmarks as a relief valve recevier, but with his size and athleticism he makes for a great option when the team needs to move the chains. With the game on the line, the Patriots tried to turn up the heat on quarterback Kyle Orton. Scheffler did a good job of chipping in and keeping his quarterback upright.

TE Daniel Graham, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (3 targets)

Just like Jabar Gaffney, Graham knows how to get open against his former team and did a good job of that on Sunday. Graham also was a key blocker on Knowshon Moreno's big 27-yard screen pass in the fourth quarter as the Broncos were trying to tie up the score.


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