Patriots Vs. Broncos: SI.com Grades New England's Performance

In decisive fashion Saturday the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos, 45-10, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. The victory advances New England to the conference championship game where the Pats will host either the Baltimore Ravens or Houston Texans next weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The Ravens and Texas play each other Sunday (1 p.m. on CBS).

However, before New England fans move onto next week, SI.com's Chris Burke graded the Pats' performance in his Inside The NFL column, and with little surprise there were a lot of As and Bs.

Here's what Burke said about Tom Brady's record-breaking performance:

Quarterback: Take away one awful overthrow for an interception, and this was Tom Brady at his absolute finest. He threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns, while spreading the ball around just enough to keep Denver way, way off balance. The TD pass he threw to Deion Branch late in the first half was a thing of beauty. To top things off, Brady even turned in a 48-yard, quick-kick punt late. Grade: A

Also, earning As were linebackers and defensive backs who he said, "the Patriots did, essentially, what Pittsburgh failed to do last week."

Meanwhile, the lowest grade unit he gave a grade to was the running backs:

Running Backs: Do we judge this group on the backs alone? In that case it wasn't a great performance -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley managed a combined 74 yards on 21 carries, with Ridley coughing up a fumble. But the Pats also utilized Hernandez as a back several times, and he pitched in 61 yards, including a huge 43-yarder in the first quarter. Grade: B-

To read the whole article, click the following link.

For more 2011-2012 NFL Playoff coverage, follow along with our playoff stream.

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