Defense, Walker lead Broncos past Pats in playoff rematchSep 25, 2006 - 3:41 AM FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- The Denver Broncos ended the New England Patriots' Super Bowl reign last January in the divisional playoffs. They still have Tom Brady's number.
Sparked by their stellar defense and two touchdown passes from Jake Plummer to Javon Walker, the Broncos posted a 17-7 victory over the Patriots in a rematch from last season's AFC divisional playoffs.
A three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Brady fell to 1-5 in his career against the Broncos. Two of the losses came last season, including his first career playoff defeat, a 27-13 setback in Denver on January 14. He is 69-17 in his career against everyone else.
"We just go out and do our job," said Broncos linebacker Ian Gold, who registered 13 tackles. "You will have to ask Brady what it is every time he plays us. I am sure it is just the execution we bring out there on the field."
"I'd say the big thing tonight was that we just got outcoached and outplayed," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who fell to 2-9 in his career against Denver, including a 2-5 mark with New England. "They did a better job than we did, that's obvious. We have to go back to work and need to improve in every area."
Brady was contained before completing all 10 of his passes on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Doug Gabriel with 9:13 remaining. However, the TD only brought New England (2-1) within 17-7.
The Broncos had gone nearly 11 1/2 quarters this season without allowing a TD before Brady connected with Gabriel.
"I hated it (New England scoring)," Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey said. "I wanted the goose egg. We have always had a Super Bowl caliber defense."
Without a running game, Brady completed 31-of-55 passes for 320 yards. Corey Dillon and first-round pick Laurence Maroney were limited to 34 yards rushing on 17 carries.
"We've got a lot of moving parts right now and guys are trying their hardest to make the right plays," Brady said. "We could have finished more drives in the first half and we didn't make the plays we needed to make."
Plummer had thrown four interceptions without a touchdown in his first two games, prompting calls for first-round pick Jay Cutler to replace him as the starter.
But Plummer quieted some of his critics Sunday, throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Walker in the second quarter and connecting with him for an 83-yard score with 13:03 remaining to give the Broncos a 17-0 lead.
Plummer completed 15-of-30 passes for 256 yards without a turnover. Walker had three catches for 130 yards.
"I kind of forgot the feeling of what it was like to score," Plummer said. "It had been a while, and in this offense that is a sin if you aren't putting it in the end zone.
"I think Jake really managed the game well," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "With a defense like this they really keep you off balance, they do so many things to you, so many different rushers, so many different defenses. They can confuse a quarterback quickly and make him make mistakes. He made a couple of big throws at opportune times."
Tatum Bell rushed for 123 yards on 27 attempts to lead the ground attack for Denver (2-1), which won its second straight following a season-opening loss at St. Louis.
Bell saw an increased role over undrafted rookie Mike Bell, who had been elevated to the top of the depth chart at running back during the preseason.
"They (coaches) told me early in the week but I had to keep it away from you guys (media)," Tatum Bell said. "I think I've earned it, I've paid my dues."
After a scoreless first quarter, Plummer directed an 11-play, 59-yard drive on the Broncos' ensuing possession of the second quarter that Jason Elam capped with a 23-yard field goal. Plummer kept alive the march with a 12-yard completion to David Kircus on a 3rd-and-7 and a six-yard connection to Rod Smith on a 3rd-and-6 play.
Brady drove the Patriots to the Broncos 19 on their ensuing possession. But rookie Stephen Gostkowski had his 37-yard field goal blocked by Domonique Foxworth.
Tatum Bell had four runs that totaled 30 yards and Plummer an 11-yard connection to Smith. Plummer then found Walker down the right side for a 32-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-1, giving Denver a 10-0 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half.
Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Plummer and Walker also hooked up for what proved to be the play that put the game out of reach. On 3rd-and-6 from his own 17, Plummer lofted a pass down the left sideline for Walker, who got behind cornerback Asante Samuel, for an 83-yard TD.
"I had seen him (Walker) make those plays when he was with the Packers," Plummer said. "We needed a guy to come make big plays for us. His plays were really big."
Walker gave credit to Plummer.
"I'm most proud of him," Walker said. "The quarterback takes the heat for a lot of the stuff that goes right and a lot of the stuff that goes wrong. He stuck in there and kept his head up."
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