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Tom Brady pounded in quiet first half for Patriots

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Tom Brady has two quarters to save the Patriots' season after a first half against the Denver Broncos that brought back memories of New England's December swoon on offense.

Brady finished the first half of Sunday's AFC Championship Game completing 9 of 20 passes for 87 yards and two interceptions. The veteran quarterback was harassed constantly, was hit eight times and sacked twice. Brady averaged just 4.3 yards per attempt -- the dreaded Gabbert Zone. The Patriots trailed, 17-9, at halftime.

ESPN Stats & Info reported that Brady had nine off-target passes in the first half. Three of his passes were overthrown, with six underthrown. Brady was driven into the turf on a clean hit from Malik Jackson on his second interception.

It will be interesting to see the adjustments offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and coach Bill Belichick come up with in the second half. Like last week, the Patriots are not throwing the ball downfield. That, of course, is difficult to do when you have 300-pounders in your grill on every other passing attempt.

The key to beating Brady in a big spot -- as the Giants and other teams have shown over the years -- is to disrupt his flow and rough him up. The Broncos did that in the first half, and they can taste a Super Bowl trip because of it.

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