What was the biggest key to Patriots' win over Broncos? Marcus Cannon shutting down Von Miller

Ryan Hannable
December 19, 2016 - 1:08 pm

[caption id="attachment_115062" align="alignright" width="400"]Marcus Cannon was one of the Patriots' best players Sunday against Denver. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports) Marcus Cannon was one of the Patriots' best players Sunday against Denver. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports)[/caption] Going into Sunday's game against the Broncos, there was great concern when it came to protecting Tom Brady, as the last time the Patriots faced the Broncos Brady was hit 20 times in the AFC title game, a 20-18 loss for the Patriots. Sunday was a much different story partly because of the game plan, but also because of the strong play of the offensive line. Brady was sacked just twice and hit only five times in the Patriots' 16-3 win. A major part in that was right tackle Marcus Cannon keeping Von Miller in check, as he finished the game with five tackles and no sacks or quarterback hits. "He's one of the best players in the league at any position, I'm talking about [Von] Miller, and their entire defense is tremendous. They're really well-coached," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Monday's conference call. "Coach [Wade] Phillips does a great job. Their entire staff does a great job. They always have a great game plan, and they make every yard hard. We tried to have some presence on him, but I thought Marcus [Cannon] did a really consistent job of just trying to make it hard on him and keep him from having an easy path inside to the quarterback; tried to be physical when we had our opportunities. We ran the ball a lot, so that was a change for us in the last few games we've played against them. "Marcus is continuing to improve and get better and better each week. He's answered every challenge that's been put in front of him and this was certainly one of if not the top players in the league, so Marcus did a nice job of doing his assignment, playing within the scheme, and trying to just make it tough for him to make big plays and impact the game in a negative fashion." Cannon also helped in the run game, as the Patriots rushed for 136 yards, including a season-high 95 for Dion Lewis. Bill Belichick was impressed too, and noted how because of the way Denver played defense it was Miller consistently lining up opposite Cannon, instead of moving him around like they've done in the past. "Denver put [Von] Miller on our right side most all the entire game," Belichick said on Monday's conference call. "Previously he had been mainly playing the 'Sam' in their base defense and going to the tight end. Yesterday he was almost always on our right, so those two really were matched up a lot. But I think Marcus [Cannon] did a real solid job for us, as he always does. Sometimes he was on Miller, sometimes he wasn't. He was on defensive ends or combination blocking the linebackers and so forth. They certainly saw plenty of each other. I thought Marcus competed well. "Our offensive line competed well against that front seven which is a very good group. But Marcus, he did a good job for us in the running game and the passing game. He's done that for us all year." It was games like Sunday that prove Cannon is in fact worth his new five-year, $32 million contract.