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Gold Stars, Penalty Flags: Patriots Defensive Backs Stymie Broncos Offense

BOSTON (CBS) -- New England's win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday was one of their biggest wins of the season. The Patriots got a chance to show that they are still one of the best teams in the NFL and they did it in convincing fashion.

Here are your gold stars and penalty flags from the 43-21 win by the Patriots:

Gold Stars

- Rob Gronkowski gets a gold star. Gronk is on his game and he's just showing off right now. He's a horrible match up for everyone in the league and his total game was on display against Denver. He brought the power game and bull rushed T.J. Ward all over the field. He brought the speed game and beat Von Miller to the spot on his touchdown. Then the versatility was on show with what could be one of the best catches of the year: A one-handed, full extension grab in traffic on a ball thrown behind him. He finished the game with nine catches for 105 yards and the score. It was just a dominant game for No. 87.

- The Pats defensive backfield gets a gold star. What this group did to discourage the Denver passing game was something to watch. Demaryius Thomas was pushed around and had to work for every yard, most of them against Brandon Browner. Demaryius was exhausted when this game was done. Emmanuel Sanders had his spurts, but was mostly quiet as he was being guarded by Darrelle Revis. Maybe though the biggest surprise is what the Pats did to Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. Patrick Chung has not gotten enough praise for his work on tight ends lately. He did a fabulous job on Julius Thomas, and Kyle Arrington shut down Welker. Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler also chipped in and give props to Jamie Collins; he put the hammer on a lot of the players after they caught the ball.

- Josh McDaniels gets a gold star. We tend to kill the Pats offensive coordinator but this time, but Josh's game plan on Sunday was right on. Not only did he spread the field and get the rock to seven different receivers, but he stayed with the run, even when it wasn't working. The Pats ran the ball 25 times for 66 yards, which is nothing to write home about, but enough to keep the Broncos defense honest. They need to keep doing that to set up the play action. Do not give up on the run; all you need is one break and the ground game is in business.

The Penalty Flags

- Okay, I'm nitpicking here but the Pats defense let up a couple of big plays. Emmanuel Sanders had a play for 28 yards, Demaryius Thomas broke one for 41 yards and C.J. Anderson broke one for 24 yards. That's all I got. The Pats played pretty solid all the way around.

Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid.


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