The Patriots-Broncos epic wrapped up Sunday's action with the Niners-Redskins Monday Night tilt the ultimate anticlimax. What to take away from this game here -
Tom Brady truly is better than Peyton Manning - The Patriots erased a 24-0 gap, with Tom Brady throwing touchdowns amid significant winds.
Manning is running out of gas - Of Denver's 31 points, 24 came in the first half in which Manning didn't do much of anything, and for the game he managed just 150 passing yards. Once again a game in which elements played a role, Manning came up small.
The Broncos schedule has taken a turn for the worse - They go to Kansas City, which scored 38 points in a loss to the Chargers, then host the Titans and the Chargers; all three teams have something to play for and all three showed reason for worry for a Broncos team running out of gas. Denver finishes up at Houston and at Oakland and suddenly the assumption the Broncos will be the AFC's top playoff seed should not hold that much water.
Stevan Ridley is becoming Curvin Richards - Another fumble, this one a fumble-six, and we never heard from Ridley the rest of the game. Suddenly people have to be concerned he won't even be on the roster after this season, especially with Bill Belichick's subtle denunciation of Ridley on WEEI's Monday afternoon interview with him.
Wes Welker showcased why the Patriots let him walk - Irrelevant to the offense - that is Wes Welker. People gush about his volume stats but all they do is fool people. Welker never elevated his game at a time when Denver needed him to do so, and then he made it worse by helping botch the overtime punt; this led to the winning field goal. All season Welker has put up volume stats yet never does it when it matters; Week One vs. Baltimore where he had one catch in Denver's first three touchdown drives remains his archtypal game with Denver.
Welcome back Kenbrell Thompkins - I've heard numerous comparisons of Thompkins to Deion Branch, and certainly he is starting to fill that role; his reemergence after posting just two catches against the Jets and getting scratched against the Dolphins is welcome.
More evidence that offense carries defense - The Patriots fell behind 24-0, so the offense after running in cement hit turbos and blasted the Patriots back into the game. New England is ninth in the league in points allowed (with Denver 26th).
Turnovers can be delicious - The Patriots are plus-eight (sixth in the league) in turnover differential while Denver is minus-three (20th).
Aqib Talib is even better than we thought - It was glaringly obvious Talib was playing hurt due to his hip situation. He gutted it out and made plays, showing his toughness is higher than that of a lot of others.
Shane Vereen is the next Kevin Faulk - Largely lost in the hoopla over other players, Shane Vereen put up 91 yards of offense - 31 rushing and he caught eight passes for 60. Slowly but surely he is becoming the next Kevin Faulk for the Patriots.
Brandon Bolden is also quietly making plays - After Ridley's benching Bolden took over the ground game with 58 yards and a score, plus an eleven-yard catch. His stock appears to be slowly rising.
The Patriots offensive line had major problems and then corrected them - The O-line seemingly could do nothing right in the first half, then they took over the line of scrimmage after that; they had a tough time with Von Miller but overall the line fought back and that was as big a key as any.
Thus did New England and Denver showcase their strengths and weaknesses as the season approaches December.