No Huddle: Patriots-Broncos postgame sound

No Huddle: Patriots-Broncos postgame sound
October 8, 2012, 3:35 am
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FOXBORO -- Do you realize it took New England five weeks to get over .500? 
Well, it did, and it happened at the expense of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. 
Tale of the tape from this 31-21 win is yet another balanced offensive effort by the Patriots offense coupled with complimentary support from the 'D.' 
You can imagine who the happy and not-so-happy parties were in the postgame. 
Quarterback Tom Brady on the team's second consecutive game with 200-plus rushing yards: "Were getting a lot of nickel defense. When they put little guys out there, we have to take advantage of it. I think were playing definitely a more physical style and controlling the tempo of the game by running the football. We have to keep doing it. Its only been five games; we still have a lot of football games left. We have to be at our best."
The Patriots ran for 251 yards against Denver on Sunday and for 247 yards last week in Buffalo. Stevan Ridley did heavy damage against the Bills (106 yards on 22 carries), but outdid himself this time -- a career-high 151 rushing yards on 28 carries. That's 5.4 average yards per carry. The total effort is his third 100-plus yard game out of five played this season. 
Brady said something about "little guys" last week as well. One has to wonder if future opponents are listening. 
Ridley on if Denver was looking to strip the ball more aggressively toward the end of the game:
Absolutely. It was late in the game, youve got to close it out, youve got to run the football and I told myself before the play that I had to hold on to the football. Like I said, theyre getting paid to play, too.  You cant make any excuses, I messed up. Im sure coach is going to have something to say about it, but like I said theres always another day tomorrow.  So Ill be back to work and working ball security high and tight. And thats all I can do.
There will certainly be another day, Ridley just has to hope there isn't another fumble. His football sin came with less than six minutes to play in the game. New England's lead had just been cut to 31-21 after a Broncos touchdown. On his third carry of a three play drive, Ridley was fighting for more yards after Von Miller made contact. He spun, started to fall backward, and the ball squirted out of his grasp. 
Rookie Brandon Bolden got the rest of the running back snaps after that. 
Receiver Wes Welker on the timing he and Brady have, including the play where a ball came right at Welker's face (but was caught):  "Its very important. That one was a little bit too close for comfort, but I knew the ball was coming quick and I knew I had to press it a little deeper than I wanted to, but I knew it was coming quick and I was ready for it and luckily able to make the play."
Welker finished with 13 catches on 15 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. This week is the third straight for the receiver to haul in 100-plus yards. 
Remember all that "phase out" talk that dominated the first two weeks of the season? Go ahead and pretend you don't. Brandon Lloyd may have been leading all receivers in targets early, but Welker is now back at the top with 52 to Lloyd's 43. 
Head coach Bill Belichick, given his respect for NFL history, on what comes to mind when seeing Peyton Manning and Brady mind in the bigger picture? "Two great players, obviously. Two great, great players. Theyre both great. Theres nobody Id rather have than Tom Brady, but Manning is a great player."
Manning actually had the better night, according to the box score. The Broncos quarterback went 31-for-44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns (116.2 rating). Brady finished 23-for-31 for 223 yards and one passing touchdown (104.6 rating). 
But as you'll see below, those numbers don't matter....
Broncos center Dan Koppen on coming back to Foxboro:
"We lost and all that matters is wins and losses. It was different, but in the end it was just a game. We lost. They ran their offense and they did it well."
Which is why Brady probably won't care about losing the passer battle to Manning.
Anyway. Dan Koppen was a Patriots draft pick out of Boston College in 2003. He played nine seasons in New England before being released in August. Yes, players come and go all over the NFL all the time, but you don't often see such long-tenured guys go elsewhere and then play his former team in his former home stadium less than two months later. 
Koppen did well to stiff-arm any drama in the post game. 
Head coach John Fox on if he feels his team was more competitive compared to the last time Denver played in New England: "Well, I think if you go by score, I think that is a fair assessment. But you know, still, being on the short end, you dont come in trying to cover or any of those types of things; you just try to win."
More on that whole "wins and losses" thing. Interesting to me, one reporter acknowledged the pointlessness of that other "moral victories" thing before asking Fox if there's any good to come from Denver's three close losses out of five games. 
The coach responded with, "You know, it just is what it is." Classic. 
Broncos free safety Rahim Moore on trying to cover Wes Welker:
"He is a bad dude."
Okay, there's more to the quote. I just thought Moore's response was funny and so singled it out. Here's the rest:
"They made good plays and we made our plays. We have to get better as a team and start off faster and once we do that we will be fine. As defensive players we have to play better because, if they don't score, they don't win." 
He's not wrong. Denver's defense is No. 14 in the league for points surrendered per game at 22.8. But there's an outlier: a measly 6-point output by Oakland in Week 4. Take out that game and the Broncos 'D' allows 27 points on average. 
Nose tackle Vince Wilfork on the Patriots defense forcing several turnovers in recent weeks:  "We practice very hard at that: we practice ball drills, interception drills, fumble drills. We put a lot of time and work into it, into going out and being able to force turnovers, getting our offense the ball back. We know as a defense, if we can continue to give our offense the ball, theyre going to move the ball and theyre going to give us some points. 
"At the end of the day, thats what its all about: scoring points and stopping guys from scoring points. I think we have a pretty good defense and I think we have a hell of a good offense. If we can continue to play together, this football team will be special."
The Patriots currently lead the AFC, and are second in the NFL, in giveawaytakeaway differential at plus-8. Their 11 takeaways (six interceptions and five fumbles) also lead the conference. 
If the offense keeps scoring at a good clip, the defense should be okay. New England is a little better than middle of the pack for total points surrendered (113) and is crushing the competition for points scored (388). 
Not that "bend don't break" is an ideal philosophy. Right? 
Anybody? Bueller?