The Patriots’ 20-17 overtime loss to the Broncos in Denver on Sunday is a perfect example of how the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story.
Tom Brady threw for 215 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on 19-of-33 passing today. That’s a solid stat line and if someone were only looking at those numbers, they’d attribute New England’s loss to something other than its quarterback.
But all is not right with Brady. His offensive line gave him plenty of time today and yet he never got into a rhythm in the passing game, which isn’t the first time I’ve written that about Brady in 2009. He never seemed to get on the same page as his receivers and he overthrew an open Randy Moss (who finished with only one catch) at least twice.
Brady has always been a fiery player, but he seems to express his frustrations more openly this season. It’s almost like he’s trying too hard to be the player he was before his knee injury and isn’t allowing the game to come to him. He knows he’s missing open receivers and he’s not shaking the bad plays off as quickly as he once did. His confidence seems to be down and it has made the Pats incredibly vulnerable.
That said, New England’s loss in Denver today could hardly be pinned solely on Brady missing the mark in the passing game. Kyle Orton shredded the Patriots’ pass defense for 330 yards and two touchdowns on 35-of-48 passing. Say what you want about Orton, but he’s 26-12 as a starter despite having only two 300-plus passing games over his career. That’s a testament to how well he manages the game and limits mistakes.
It was good to see Eddie Royal (10 receptions, 90 yards) finally snap out of his early season funk and turn in a complete game. If he can build off this, he’ll give Orton another weapon in the passing game and help take attention off of Brandon Marshall, who once again came up huge with a fourth quarter touchdown.
If the Broncos could crash at any point and their 5-0 start would be nothing but a distant memory. But if their defense continues to play as well as it has, then they’ll cruise to an AFC West title, which seemed highly unlikely just five weeks ago.