As a football blogger you’re required by law to write a “5 Keys to Victory” post before every game. I usually avoid this, mostly because I find five keys to be too arbitrary. Who’s to say a victory doesn’t require ten keys? Or maybe just three?
But for this week’s playoff game I’m busting out all the stops, and I only have one key. Just one simple thing that the Patriots need to do tomorrow to win the game.
That one key… (drum roll)…
Protect Tom Brady.
That’s all it really comes down to. The Broncos can run wild versus the Pats, Tebow can complete more than 50% of his passes (crazy I know), and the Pats running game can sputter to a start like it usually does, but it will not matter if the Patriots offensive line gives Tom Brady time when they pass the ball.
If Brady feels comfortable in the pocket he will pick apart the Broncos no matter who they choose to double cover and take out of the equation.
The one consistent theme of the recent playoff losses (which I’m looking forward to no longer hearing about next week btw) has been Brady under duress which has slowed down the Patriots offense and forced them into turnovers.
So cross your fingers that Logan Mankins is able to prove why Bill Belichick called him “super tough”. That Nate Solder isn’t overwhelmed in his first playoff game. That Sebastian Vollmer is suddenly healthy. That Brian Waters plays like this could be his last chance at a Super Bowl (which it could be). And that Dan Connolly is ready to prove he’s the heir apparent to Dan Connolly.
As this group goes tomorrow so will go the Patriots chance at victory. It’s really just that simple.