The New England Patriots have been the most consistent team in the National Football League this decade. The team’s three Super Bowl Championships, four Super Bowl appearances, six division titles and NFL-best record of 103-31 can attest to that.
But if the Patriots are this century’s super team, then the Broncos are their kryptonite.
Since 2001, the year New England started its dominance by winning the team’s first Super Bowl, the Broncos have a 5-1 record against the Patriots. That mark includes the Broncos’ 27-13 win in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game during the 2005 season, making Denver the first team to beat New England in the playoffs since ’01.
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said the Broncos are a team that knows how to win.
“They are a good football team — that is number one,” he said. “It starts with Mike and the coaching, their program and their players. They have won a lot of games and championships, and they have beaten a lot of teams. They certainly have had a lot of success against us. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike and the Broncos — they are always tough.”
Current Bronco and former Patriot Daniel Graham was a member of those New England squads that consistently fell short against Denver.
“Every time we played the Broncos they had our number when I was up there,” he said. “I recall just winning one time.”
“(Denver) is just one of those teams that has had the Patriots’ number,” he continued.
Belichick gave credit to Shanahan for his ability to conduct an offense by creating mismatches and utilizing his personnel to the best of their abilities. He listed that as one of the reasons the Broncos have been successful in their matchups against the Pats.
So what does Shanahan attribute as the secret to the Broncos success?
“I’ve got no idea,” he said. “I don’t think you really think about what you’ve done in the past. You just get ready for this game. You know what type of team they have had the last couple of years. It’s always a great challenge. Great coach, great players, great home record.”
It is safe to say that Coach Shanahan isn’t letting his squad linger on past achievements against New England.
Ebenezer Ekuban has been a part of several of the Broncos victories over the past couple years against the Patriots, and he too doesn’t quite know why the Broncos have been so dominant against them. But despite recent success, Ekuban said that the Broncos can’t dwell on the past but rather need to focus their attention on the present.
“I don’t know if it’s schematic-wise or what’s going on, but we take one game at a time and one year at a time,” he said. “We don’t look to the past — whether we’ve won four or five straight, it doesn’t matter. This is a new year and I’m sure they have added motivation because we’ve beaten them a couple games in the past. So we have to bring our best game going forward.”
-Jake Grilley, DenverBroncos.com