FOXBOROUGH — Through five games this season, and despite injuries to key players, the Patriots’ offense appears to be in full bloom. What else can you parse from Sunday’s 31-21 shredding of the Broncos? It was a dominating display, helped almost entirely by its offensive efficiency and cherry-topped with a timely defensive turnover.
Here’s some things to consider when looking back at this game:
1) This well-oiled machine depends on balance — Prior to Sunday’s game, all the hype was about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Sure, those two are future Hall of Famers and deserving of the attention. They both earned it Sunday with stellar outings, too. But the Patriots don’t control the clock without 251 yards rushing. They don’t get a franchise-record 35 first downs without the 18 they got on the ground. This is a dangerous offensive unit with Brady at the helm already, but it is a much scarier one with the running attack so powerful. The Patriots had 444 yards of offense to the Broncos’ 404. There’s a reason the Patriots were able to hold off the Broncos, and it wasn’t all because of Brady’s arm.
2) Alfonzo Dennard makes a decent debut — Without checking the film, Dennard had a very successful outing in his first NFL game. The seventh-round pick out of Nebraska recorded a tackle and had a huge pass-defensed in the second quarter. Dennard had come on for Sterling Moore in the nickel package and on his first series and was tested by Manning. He broke up a pass intended for Brandon Stokley and proceeded to contribute for the rest of the game, sometimes at the expense of Moore and, for one series, at the expense of Devin McCourty. It’ll be interesting to see what his contributions will be like when safety Steve Gregory returns.
For the rest of this post, visit the original on the Extra Points blog on Boston.com.