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Brady is determined that Patriots get it right

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / December 15, 2011
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FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady has faced - and beaten - every team in the NFL.

And against 30 of those 31 teams, Brady has a winning record. It’s a testament to him, and the consistency of the Patriots in his decade-plus as the team’s starting quarterback.

But there is one team Brady always has had problems with: the Denver Broncos.

Brady was going through the motions during his weekly news conference yesterday, saying he hasn’t seen much of Broncos phenomenon Tim Tebow because he’s been so wrapped up in studying Denver’s defense, especially pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Brady, like coach Bill Belichick before him, tried to debunk the theory that the higher elevation and thinner air in Denver might affect he and his teammates.

And then a reporter brought up Brady’s losing record against the Broncos, and whether there was a common thread in the defeats.

Brady’s expression changed.

“I didn’t know that,’’ he said, a slight smile crossing his face.

Brady was then informed that he’s 1-5 against the Broncos in the regular season.

“1-5?’’ he said, his eyebrows, and voice, rising a bit. “Man, that’s pretty bad. Hopefully, we get to 2-5 this week.’’

And suddenly, the altitude issues that Brady had pooh-poohed moments before became a potential culprit.

“Maybe it’s the mile-high air,’’ he said. “Maybe there is something to that.’’

He was joking, but it is interesting that no team has given Brady more problems than the Broncos. His lone win against them came Nov. 3, 2003, which many remember as the Monday night game when Belichick famously had Lonie Paxton snap the ball through the Patriots’ end zone for a safety. The move put the Broncos up by 3, but the Patriots’ defense held, and Brady found David Givens for an 18-yard touchdown with seconds to play for the 30-26 win.

Brady actually has faced Denver seven times, including a Division round playoff loss in 2005.

Brady has completed just 154 of 272 passes against the Broncos, a 56.6 completion percentage that is considerably lower than his career mark of 63.8 percent.

Brady has 11 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in those seven games - a 1.6:1 ratio that is far off his career ratio of 2.6 TD passes per interception.

Brady noted that for many of those meetings, former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was on the opposing sideline.

“We just haven’t played very well, I don’t think,’’ said Brady. “We’ve had some very close games against them, we just haven’t pulled it out. They’re a good team, they’ve had a good team for a long time. When Coach Shanahan was there, I think we played a bunch of very tight games with them. Hopefully, we can start working our way to getting even.’’

The Patriots’ six losses to the Broncos with Brady were by an average of 8 points. Their most recent win came in 2008, when Brady was on the shelf with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Matt Cassel was under center. The 41-7 was the largest margin of victory against the Broncos in Patriots history.

Belichick wouldn’t speak of past losses to the Broncos, but the most recent is no doubt one he’d like to forget. It came Oct. 11, 2009, in overtime, after a second-half collapse against a Broncos team coached by former Belichick assistant Josh McDaniels.

Now, the Broncos are coached by John Fox, with Tebow inexplicably pulling out last-minute wins, and with a defense that has been able to keep games close.

And Brady is looking to forge a new personal history against the Broncos.

“You hate losing,’’ said Brady, “but there’s nothing I can do about those games in the past now, so I’ll just try to win this one. That will make me feel pretty good.’’

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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