FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Denver Broncos came out on defense Saturday with a clear goal in mind: stop Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
But in the end, the three-time Super Bowl champion proved to be too good for Denver's ailing defense.
Brady threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns, five of which came in the first half - an NFL postseason record.
"It's Brady being Brady," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "What more can you say? He's been around the block a few times. He knows how to win games. If you're not ready to punch him in the mouth, he's going to eat you up all night."
The Broncos were put in a precarious situation early, when starting safety Quinton Carter left the game in the second quarter with a neck injury. His fellow starting safety, David Bruton, left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.
With Brian Dawkins already out, that left Denver with just two available safeties on the active roster in rookie Rahim Moore and backup Rafael Bush.
"I think Brady was about as sharp as I've seen him," Head Coach John Fox said. "He's a terrific quarterback anyways, but I thought he had a great night. The fact that we lost a couple safeties didn't help."
ROOM TO GROW
With Saturday's 45-10 defeat - the Broncos' second loss to the Patriots in five games - the Broncos acknowledged they are not quite at the level needed to compete with the elite teams in the NFL week-in and week-out.
"We are a work in progress," Fox said. "We've got a lot of work to do. That hasn't changed for some time and as I mentioned earlier -- with the two matchups we had against the New England Patriots, I think it's evident we have work to do."
Other than in the first quarter-plus of the first game, the Broncos didn't hold a lead against New England. In Saturday's game, the Patriots used a fast start, scoring two touchdowns in the first 7:18 minutes, to give themselves an upper hand they wouldn't relinquish.
"We continued to fall behind, but even at halftime we came in and we just we're going to play one play at a time and you never know what's going to happen," quarterback Tim Tebow said. "We just weren't able to get it done."
STRIVING FOR CONSISTENCY
One thing the Broncos will work on during the offseason is playing more consistently.
Last week, Denver beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending AFC champions, by putting up 29 points on their top-ranked defense. However, just one week later, Denver fell Saturday to the Patriots, scoring just 10 points on the league's 31st ranked defense.
It's something the Broncos have worked on all year.
"We'd definitely love to be more consistent," Tebow said. "You look at the great teams and they usually are. They'll have a few lows, a few highs, but for the most part they stay pretty consistent. That'll be definitely something we'll be working on."