How the Pats picked apart the Broncos

U.S. Presswire/Greg M. Cooper

Tom Brady had the right touch in Sunday's win.

Peyton Manning may have had gaudier numbers than Tom Brady, but Brady and the New England Patriots got the better of things on the scoreboard.

The Patriots had a strategic approach to counter some of the Denver Broncos tendencies and made it work. Let’s take a closer look at how New England came through and how Brady got his ninth win in 13 matchups with Manning.

Brady dinks and dunks

Tom Brady used short passes to pick apart the Broncos defense. Brady was 22-for-26 on throws of 10 yards or fewer, gaining 198 yards on those passes.

He was 1-for-5 for 25 yards when throwing the ball at least 11 yards downfield.

Brady entered the day ninth in the NFL in completion percentage on those short throws-- with a 73 percent rate.

Brady had his 37th straight game with a touchdown throw, passing Brett Favre for the third-longest streak of games with one in NFL history.

Broncos go away from what worked

Entering week 4, the Broncos sent five or more pass rushers at the third-highest rate this season (41 percent) with the second-lowest completion percentage allowed on such plays (48 percent).

On Sunday, the Broncos sent added pressure just 32 percent of the time, and Brady made them pay by going 8-for-10 against that rush for 79 yards.

Ridley’s specialty

The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 total first downs against the Broncos.

Stevan Ridley had nine of those to build on his league-leading total entering the weekend. Ridley also leads the NFL in rushing first downs when contacted by a defender before reaching the first-down marker.

On his way to a career-high 151 yards rushing, Ridley added two runs of that type and powered through a defender at the 2-yard line to get into the end zone for his only score of the game.

Welker approaching a record

Wes Welker’s 13 catches gave him 15 games with at least 10 receptions in his career. That’s tied with Reggie Wayne for the third-most in NFL history. Jerry Rice (17) and Marvin Harrison (16) are the only two players with more.

Welker tied his career-best streak of 100-yard games with his third in a row.

Unusual loss for Manning

Manning fall to 31-5 in games in which he threw for at least three touchdowns and had no interceptions. The five quarterbacks who have beaten him are Steve Young, Byron Leftwich, David Carr, Matt Schaub, and Brady.

Stat of the game

The Patriots had 251 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. It’s the first time they’ve had at least three rushing scores in consecutive games since 1978. The rushing yardage total was also the third-most in the Bill Belichick era (since 2000).