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Devin McCourty, Sterling Moore and the Patriots know Tim Tebow can throw deep

01.11.12 at 9:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It was the perfect play for Bill Belichick to dissect for his players going into this week’s matchup with Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

Tebow drops back on the first play of overtime and Ryan Mundy cheats up from his safety position while corner Ike Taylor – up tight in bump-and-run – allows Demaryius Thomas to get inside and sprint over the middle. Tebow throws a strike 25 yards down the middle. Thomas catches, stiff arms and does the rest. Eighty yards to pay dirt and playoff glory.

Belichick downplayed the deep pass this week but no doubt he went over the play time and time again with his staff and secondary, a cautionary tale of what can happen if you get sloppy in the secondary against a quarterback known first for his legs, not his arm.

“We’€™ve seen them do that before, too,” Belichick said. “I think they have a good mix offensively. If you play everybody up there, they’€™ll go downfield. If you drop everybody off, they’€™ll take what’€™s underneath and run the ball. They do a good job of attacking where the defense is soft. They can go inside, outside, short, deep ‘€“ they’€™re well balanced.”

How hard is it to defend against a team that has a newfound confidence in being able to do something, like throwing downfield?

“I think as a team [they] were already confident,” said Devin McCourty, who has a very unique perspective after making the transition to safety in the season finale against the Bills. “I don’€™t think they ever went into a game ‘€“ no matter what anybody said, ‘€˜They can’€™t throw the ball, they can’€™t make vertical [passes].’€™ I think they went into each game confident. They’€™ve made big plays all throughout the season. I don’€™t think the Pittsburgh game was the first time that they’€™ve made big plays. They’€™ve done that all throughout the season, so I think they’€™ve remained confident. We know that we’€™re going to face a confident team. We faced a confident team the first time. We just have to take care of our end.

“I was watching kind of as a fan, so when I saw it, I was [like], ‘€˜Ohhhh.’€™ The guy caught the ball and then just took off. It’€™s tough. Just hopefully if you’€™re in that position, just trying to make a tackle.”

That was hardly the only ball that impressed McCourty. The TD pass on a 30-yard corner fade to Eddie Royal in the first half was no joke.

“The completed some pretty good passes,” McCourty said. “The pass to Eddie Royal, it was a small window to get it in there. It was a pretty good throw.”

Sterling Moore was watching the Steeler defense as much as he was the Broncos offense.

‘€œYou know they had some good things and some bad things, so you kind of just want to take the good things that they did and kind of avoid the bad things that they did, but it’€™s one of those games where you’€™re going to have to be mentally sharp and know your assignment and do your assignment only,” Moore said.

Read More: 2012 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
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