First off, the Broncos did not stop the Patriots' running game. The running game was stopped by a game plan that appeared to focus on beating a weak secondary. So, instead of playing to our strength we tried to play to the opposing team's weakness. I tell you, the week before the game I kept hearing radio and tv personalities talk about how Brady was just going to throw the ball down the field and it made me nervous. Although I was worried that Josh McDaniels would cave in and start having Brady throw it around instead of using our one two punch of Ridley and Blount, I thought maybe his great play calling against the Colts was a sign of good things to come. Boy was I wrong.
Since some of you are still thinking that the lack of a running game was because of the Broncos stellar run-stopping defense, let me throw some stats at you.
Play Calling in First Quarter (P=pass R=run /=next set of downs)
Colts- R / R R P R P R P P R R / P R P / R R R R (12 running plays to 6 passing plays)
Broncos- P R P / P R P/ P P R P R P P P (4 running plays to 10 passing plays)
Play Calling in Second Quarter (P=pass R=run /=next set of downs)
Colts- R R P P P P R R R R / R R R P R / R R P (12 running plays to 6 passing plays)
Broncos- P R P R P R P P / P P P R (4 running plays to 8 passing plays)
Looking at the first two quarters of play calling, it's pretty easy to see that the Patriots weren't making much of an effort to get their running game going. The first two token running plays of the game were sandwiched in between pass plays which led to two consecutive 3 and outs. Starting out two possession in a row with a pass play when we only complete 58% of first down passes yet average 4.6 yards per carry on first down, yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
In the Denver game the Patriots averaged 4 yards per carry while against the Colts they had an average of 5.1 yards. While this may seem like proof that Denver was "stopping the run", it really isn't the case because in our first 16 attempts against the Colts we only average 3.2 yards per carry. Good thing we didn't abolish the run against the Colts or we might have exited the playoffs a week earlier.
Results of Rushing Plays (plays beyond #16 in bold)
Colts- 2 4 1 1 4 5 2 2 4 3 5 1 8 2 2 5 3 2 8 8 4 0 5 -1 2 3 2 2 3 7 0 9 0 73 2 1 8 -1 2 2 30 10 3 -3
Broncos- 0 1 5 0 3 2 0 0 5 9 2 8 -1 9 11 5