|09-23-2006, 07:04 AM||#1|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
Broncos have NO fear
Broncos are a rare breed: They have no fear
By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Columnist | September 23, 2006
SoCals link: http://www.boston.com/sports/footbal..._have_no_fear/
FOXBOROUGH -- It is the one team that has failed to get on board. It is the team with no fear of the Patriots' Super Bowl mystique. It is Kraft Kryptonite, the only NFL franchise that refuses to fold at the sight of Bill Belichick in a hoodie and Tom Brady in a huddle.
That team is the Denver Broncos and they own your New England Patriots.
Hard to believe, but true. While assorted tough guys from Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Carolina have fallen like tomato cans, the Broncos have dominated the Patriots. While New England's division foes rolled over and worshiped at the feet of Genius Bill, the Broncos have had their way with Belichick and Brady.
Look at it this way: Since Mo Lewis broke Drew Bledsoe into a million little pieces in the autumn of 2001, the Broncos are 4-1 against New England. That's 4-1 during the Patriots' three-Super Bowl run. No other NFL team comes close.
The Patriots are 10-1 in the playoffs (anybody remember Bill Murray telling his troops, ``We're 10-1," in ``Stripes"?) during the Belichick-Brady era and their NFL-record 10-game winning streak was snapped in January when the Patriots turned the ball over five times in a 27-13 playoff loss at Denver.
``They just have some playmakers on that side of the ball," Brady said Wednesday when asked about the Denver defense (which has yet to yield a touchdown this year). ``They're fast and aggressive and they play physical. I think we've gotten behind them a bunch in these last bunch of games that we've lost to them . . . For some reason, we haven't played as well and we have got to figure out a way to play better."
Denver coach Mike Shanahan might have something to do with it. Unlike just about everyone else in the league, he refuses to succumb to the popular theory that holds the Patriots will beat you because they are smarter. Shanahan has a couple of Lombardi trophies in his showcase. He also has the maniacal look of a man you'd expect to see wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg irons. He fears no team.
``He does everything well," said Belichick, who loves the challenge of coaching against Shanahan and seems to be enjoying his week in the Mangini-free zone. ``He's good with schemes, uses different type players, and is not afraid to turn guys over on the team. He's an aggressive coach. He will do what he needs to make his team better . . . Mike's not afraid of anything."
The Patriots and Broncos share considerable history. This is their third meeting in a calendar year and the 12th in 12 seasons. The Billy Sullivan baby Patriots played their inaugural game against the Broncos Sept. 9, 1960, at Boston University, a 13-10 loss.
Even Coach Bill has history with Denver. It's a little-known fact that Belichick spent a year with the Broncos as an assistant under Red Miller in 1978. He was 26 years old and the Broncos were his third team in four years.
``That was great exposure to a whole new group of coaches," Belichick remembered. ``It was a great learning experience for me."
Shanahan was offensive coordinator of Eastern Illinois in 1978. He joined the Broncos as an assistant in 1984 and (after stints in Los Angeles and San Francisco) came back to Denver as head coach in 1995 . He's 115-63 during the regular season, including 13-3 in 2005.
Junior Seau, who saw Shanahan on a regular basis when he played for the Chargers, said, ``He's a great coach and when you have that kind of continuity, it makes you a better football team."
Oddly enough, New England's only win over Denver during the Belichick-Brady era came on a Monday night in Denver in 2003 when Belichick truly did win a game all by himself. That was the night the coach ordered an intentional safety to save clock and secure field position and the Patriots ended up winning, 30-26. It was also a night when Danny Kanell started in place of Jake Plummer.
Denver beat the Patriots twice last season, once in October when New England was riddled with injuries, then again in the playoffs. Denver took a 28-3 lead in the regular-season game and led, 24-6, during the playoff joust.
``Their offense has the weapons to score 30 points," said New England safety Rodney Harrison, who was on the shelf for both losses. ``I played nine years in San Diego and Shanahan is an offensive mastermind. This year, they're off to a slow start [1-1], but you know they're hungry to get that second win. Last year is last year. They have new guys, we have new guys, and we have guys who've returned from injuries. We have a tremendous amount of respect for their team. It doesn't matter if you've lost 100 games, this is about Sunday night. That's all it comes down to."
Nineteen of the 22 Broncos who started against New England in January are still wearing Orange Crush. One is cornerback Champ Bailey, who made the play of the game when he intercepted Brady and ran it back 100 yards late in the third quarter. Brady's been asked about that pass approximately the same number of times that Mike Torrez was queried about a certain pitch to Bucky Dent after the 1978 season.
``I just didn't get enough on it and he made me pay," Brady said again Wednesday.
The game sticks with Brady. It sticks with all-world lineman Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and the other Super Bowl Ring Leaders. They think it's time to tame the Broncos and bring them in line with the rest of the NFL.
Last edited by Atlas; 09-23-2006 at 07:09 AM..
|09-23-2006, 07:11 AM||#2|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
Harrison was nearly a Bronco
Safety had tough decision to make
SoCals link: http://www.boston.com/sports/footbal...arly_a_bronco/
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | September 22, 2006
FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots host the Broncos Sunday night, which will give safety Rodney Harrison another chance to wonder what might have been.
When Harrison was a free agent after the 2002 season -- and it was clear he wouldn't be back with the Chargers after nine seasons -- he narrowed his list of possible destinations to the Broncos, Raiders, and Patriots.
How close was he to signing with the Broncos?
``That was probably the No. 1 team on my list, where I wanted to go, because I think Mike Shanahan is such a classy coach," Harrison said. ``I admire him, played against him for years out in San Diego, and I knew what type of ship he ran. I had talked to [former Bronco] Shannon Sharpe and he had nothing but great things to say about Mike Shanahan.
``But when I had the opportunity to come out to New England, they really stepped up. They wanted me here. They flew me out and wouldn't let me out of here. I couldn't pass up that opportunity. Good thing I didn't, huh?"
Harrison said Shanahan and the Broncos attempted to woo him back to Denver, but things worked out for Denver anyway.
``They end up getting John Lynch," he said, ``and I think people now realize the old guys can still play, both of us."
Meanwhile, Harrison said his previously injured knee feels great, and that his confidence continues to grow.