In quieting the Tebowmania — albeit even for just a few days — the New England Patriots (11-3) accomplished a few other things as well.
They traveled to Denver, a place where quarterback Tom Brady has won only one time in his career before Sunday’s 41-23 victory, rallied from 11 points down en route to a commanding win and locked up the team’s eighth AFC East title in nine years. The win was also New England’s sixth straight on the season.
"It was a good day for us,” Brady told the media after the game. “It was a very emotional game. The place was really rocking early. We showed some mental toughness, playing hard for 60 minutes. We really played good football. It's what we needed."
Putting together a full 60 minutes is something New England has been focused on throughout the season, with its fourth-quarter play losing a lot of steam and oftentimes letting teams back in the game. But not on Sunday.
The Patriots were running on all cylinders, as the defense caused three turnovers before halftime, on which the Patriots converted into 13 points. It sent New England into the break with a 27-16 lead, a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the day.
“We take a lot of pride in doing our homework in the fourth quarter,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who participated in some on-field "Tebowing," said after the game. “We knew [QB Tim] Tebow and the Broncos like to play well in the fourth quarter, but that's one of the things that we try and do. Our main goal was to get to the fourth quarter and fourth-quarter execute, which we did."
The game offered a lot of bright spots for New England. Even with a depleted defensive unit, the Patriots showed they could still get the job done … again. And after losing defensive lineman Andre Carter, who has had a huge impact on the Patriots’ defensive front, to a serious knee injury early in the game, players stepped in and stepped up. Mark Anderson, Carter’s substitute, caused plenty of problems of his own, including a fumble by Tebow.
Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco also scored his first touchdown as a Patriot. And Aaron Hernandez, the other dangerous New England tight end, had a big game, hauling in nine catches for 129 yards and finding the end zone once.
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