NFL playoffs: Patriots bring Tebow to his knees

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady silenced Tebowmania with a record-shattering performance.

Rob Ninkovich, Gerard Warren, Tim Tebow
Elise Amendola

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, center, is sacked by New England Patriots defensive tackle Gerard Warren (98) and outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich (50) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Rob Gronkowski, Andre' Goodman
Charles Krupa

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) catches a 10-yard touchdown pass while being defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman (21) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Brady threw six touchdown passes, five in the first half, putting the New England Patriots into the AFC championship game after roughing up Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 45-10 Saturday night.

The Patriots (14-3), winners of nine straight games, will host either Baltimore or Houston next Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl. Saturday night's romp snapped a three-game postseason losing streak, two of those at Gillette Stadium, and lifted the Patriots to the verge of their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons. They've won three of those.

"We came in and started fast and it was a big win for us," said Brady, who even got off a 48-yard punt on third down.

From the first snap, this was a mismatch. The Patriots were not going to make the same mistakes the Steelers made against this team.

"He's been around the block a few times. He knows how to win games," the Broncos' Champ Bailey said of Brady. "If you're not ready to punch him in the mouth he's going to eat you up all night."

A nation transfixed by Tebow's play, if not his principles, tuned in Saturday to see if he had more heroics in store for Brady and company. He had nothing left as the Patriots made this must-see TV only for those who live in New England.

With New England up 42-7, the fans began their derisive Teeee-bow chants. On the next play, the Broncos quarterback was sacked for an 11-yard loss — one of five sacks for New England's 31st-ranked defense.

"We went out and played very hard and good things happened," defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. "A great team win."

And so ended one of the season's most exciting story lines — one that began when Denver was 1-4 and made Tebow a starter. The one-time third-stringer promptly won six in a row and seven of eight, with a string of stunning comebacks.

"I was really proud of what he showed and where he brought this football team," coach John Fox said. " We're a work in progress."

That surge ended with a 41-23 home loss to New England, and the Broncos dropped their next two, backing into the AFC West title.

But they rebounded nicely in their first playoff game since the 2005 season with the longest overtime touchdown in playoff history, an 80-yard catch and run by Demaryius Thomas against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like everyone else on the Broncos' offense, Thomas was invisible against the Patriots.

Denver couldn't cover or tackle All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who tied a postseason mark with three touchdown catches, all in the opening half. Brady toyed with the Broncos (9-9), throwing more TD passes than Tebow had completions (three) in the first 30 minutes.

"We were playing complementary football, and it was awesome," Gronkowski said. "Obviously, you can't start off the game any better than that."

Brady's sixth TD was to his other tight end, Aaron Hernandez, as the quarterback tied Steve Young and Daryle Lamonica for the most in a postseason game.

The two-time league MVP threw for 5,235 yards during the season, second in NFL history to Drew Brees' 5,476 in 2011. He looked ready to get that much against the Broncos as he moved to third place in career touchdown passes in the playoffs with 36, trailing Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44).

Brady was 26 for 34 for 363 yards and Gronkowski made 10 catches for 145 yards as the Patriots gained 509 yards in all. In stark contrast, Tebow was 9 for 26 for 136 yards.

The Broncos won the coin toss and elected to defer. Bad idea: They never were in the game after that.

Brady hit his first eight passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who's leaving to become Penn State's coach once the Patriots are done, threw in a wrinkle by using Hernandez as a running back. On one of those plays, Hernandez broke free down the left sideline for a 43-yard gain, the team's longest run this season.

But with the ball in his hands and a 14-0 lead, Brady momentarily stumbled. His throw over the middle for Julian Edelman sailed directly to safety Quinton Carter, whose weaving return set up Denver at the New England 24.

Willis McGahee scored on a 5-yard run.

Carter left the game moments later with a neck injury; Denver was already without strong safety Brian Dawkins with a neck problem. And it's secondary had no chance without them.

Yes, Brady had cooled off in the 24-degree temperature (wind chill of 12), but only for a while.

Using the no-huddle, and aided by an effective running game, Brady hit three passes for 31 yards, with Gronkowski getting free over the middle this time for the 12-yard score. Several times, and not just on his romps into the end zone, Gronkowski simply shoved aside would-be tacklers to tack on yards after catches.

Brady's TDs covered 10, 12 and 19 yards to Gronkowski, 7 to Wes Welker, 61 to Deion Branch and 17 yards to Hernandez early in the third quarter. Coach Bill Belichick wasn't about to back off at that point, but the Patriots stalled inside the Denver 5 early in the four period and Stephen Gostkowski made a 21-yard field goal to conclude New England's scoring.

Hernandez left in the fourth quarter with a head injury.

"He's feeling great," Gronkowski said. "Hernandez is a beast and I love playing with him and everything."

On Brady's surprise punt, which Belichick said they had worked on for years without using, Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller slammed into the back of New England's Dan Connolly, who wasn't looking. Matt Light then shoved Miller, Connolly turned around and got into a pushing match with Miller as several players joined in and shoved each other, spilling onto the Patriots' sideline.

Miller drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.

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Comments

 's picture

Hopefully this will put to

Hopefully this will put to rest the "tebow' mania that has existed on FOX news. I doubt it, but it would be nice if those A**holes would focus on the games instead of a "higher power" Personally, I would like to give Mr Tebow the benefit of the doubt, however I am always suspicious of people who make an excessive demonstration of their faith.

David  Cote's picture

Hey Dan...

Sounds like you could use a blast of that "Higher Power". So you're sick of the Timmy Tebow and his faith? That's your bag, but what's with the singling out of Fox News? EVERY news media and channel have reported on the Tebow story. Why you so intimidated by FOX News? If you're so darned uppity correct and secure about your positions then FOX News shouldn't be of any issue to you at all. As for Tebow, give your suspicious mind a rest. Tebow's done far more good in this world than you or I have.

 's picture

Mr. Cote, I challenge you to

Mr. Cote, I challenge you to find where I said I was 'sick' of Tebow and his faith. It isn't there, except for your attempt to put words in my mouth then attack me for it. Nice try. Now, I am not knowledgeable about your god at the altar of greed and avarice, but MY God hears a quiet and personal "Thank you Lord" just as much as an ostentatious display. The only reason for the latter is so EVERYONE can see, and THAT turns me off, because throughout history that is the way of hypocrites. However, as I stated in my previous post, I am willing to give Mr. Tebow the benefit of a doubt, he might very well be sincere, just misguided.

Now I watch several news channels, and I could have missed it on other channels, however if would be impossible to miss it on FOX News, they brought it up every day, several times a day.

Fred Stone's picture

Remote

You should have an option on your remote so you can delete any given channel, unless you want a 5 year old to come over and do it.

 's picture

Why would I want to delete

Why would I want to delete any channel? I enjoy watching various channels with various viewpoints. I feel it is healthier than just watching one viewpoint continuously, because then I'd be a republican.

David  Cote's picture

Then your philosophy is failing you Mr. Breton

Because in all your posts you have shown you are capable of expressing only one viewpoint.

 's picture

As usual you're not making

As usual you're not making any sense. Why would I express more than one viewpoint, my own, on any topic? If I didn't wouldn't that label me a hypocrite? I listen to various viewpoints, and then decide what I believe and why. That's what wrong with FOX News, you only listen to that crap and it gives bigotry acceptability.

David  Cote's picture

OOOOPS!

My bad...The line should have read "consider other viewpoints." not express. And I do watch FOX News, the actual news portions, not the O'Reillys and Hannitys of the world. Those guys are more concerned with their own gold viewer membership dollar tallies than actual issues. So, you want to open doors...I do watch FOX News. Does that make me a bigot, Dan?

 's picture

Absolutely not, I also watch

Absolutely not, I also watch FOX News, usually during the afternoons, however I've noticed that even the "news" portions of the channel are riddled with opinion mixed in with the hard news. The anchors are constantly making comments and opinions during the newscast, something you don't get on REAL news networks.

David  Cote's picture

OOOOPS!

My bad...The line should have read "consider other viewpoints." not express. And I do watch FOX News, the actual news portions, not the O'Reillys and Hannitys of the world. Those guys are more concerned with their own gold viewer membership dollar tallies than actual issues. So, you want to open doors...I do watch FOX News. Does that make me a bigot, Dan?

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