As it usually is when he's on, Tom Brady's first-half performance against the Denver Broncos in Saturday's second divisional round playoff game was ruthlessly efficient in a way that made the defense find it hard to breathe. And in all of his great games, Brady had never done what he did against the Broncos — he set an NFL record with five touchdown passes in a single half of playoff football. That put the Pats up 35-7 when the two teams took their locker room breaks, and it's safe to say that the Broncos weren't going to get any orange slices. The final score of 45-10 put a capper on a game that was, to dust off the old sporting cliche, nowhere near as close as the final score indicated.
It's not as easy as Brady made it look, but it was just about as robotic. A quick 7-yard slant to Wes Welker, a play-action deep route to Deion Branch (aided as it was by an uncalled offensive pass interference penalty), and three touchdowns to the absolutely unbeatable Rob Gronkowski, who seemed to be trying to top what was the greatest season for a tight end in NFL history.
[ Photo gallery: Tom Brady, Patriots lay waste to Broncos ]
If anyone thought that Brady was the "other" quarterback in this game, they just got a slap-upside-the-head reminder of just how the NFL's food chain really works.
"It's the same guys in there on defense and there are some of the same schemes," Brady said of the Denver defense he last faced in Week 15. In that game, the Broncos got out to a 16-7 lead before Brady waxed them with 27 unanswered points. "There are definitely some new wrinkles that they've added to what they're doing that we have to be able to prepare for. But the way the team has played the course of the entire season, you don't go into these games and think, 'Oh, let's change it up.' You get to this point for playing a certain style. They're going to continue to play their style - what they think they do very well. And we're going to try to do the things that we do well. "
Brady amassed an amazing series of totals in the game's first 30 minutes this time — 18 of 25 for 246 yards and those five scores Meanwhile, Tim Tebow completed three of 10 passes for 28 yards — yes, he had two fewer completions than Brady had touchdowns.
[ Box score: Check out Tom Brady's impressive stat line ]
As CBS' Dan Marino said during the game's halftime show, "The only way the Denver Broncos have a chance of coming back is if Brady goes and plays for the Broncos."
Brady threw a sixth touchdown -- this one to tight end Aaron Hernandez -- in the third quarter, and then the Patriots scoring machine seemed to slow down. The last quarterback to throw six touchdowns in a postseason game was San Francisco's Steve Young in Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers.
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