The AFC Championship Game between the Broncos and Patriots is expected to be a knock-down, drag-out battle for the rights to represent the conference in Super Bowl 50. (Here's how to watch it and here's the link to stream Broncos-Patriots online.)
It wouldn't be surprising to see it become a physical football game, but ESPN analyst Danny Kanell thinks the Broncos should ratchet things up a notch. Specifically, via Awful Announcing, he believes Denver should "send a message" with some shots on Tom Brady "past the whistle."
“I think they have to have two personal foul calls, like 15-yarders against Brady,” Kanell said. “Like, they've been talking about him crying, I almost feel like this is the type of game where you have to send a message like in the first and second quarter, the first half, hit him a couple of times where it's a little past the whistle. Like, let him know you're around. Get those knock downs, get those hits on him, make him aware that you're coming after him."
This would be the definition of football were it not for the inclusion of "past the whistle" there. The Broncos spent part of the week leading up to this game calling Brady a "crybaby," which isn't going to play well with the refs if they start taking late shots on the Pats quarterback.
Kanell tried to clarify his comments by saying he didn't mean "dirty" just "questionable."
“I'm saying you're gonna take the hit, you're going to hit him late and you're going to get a flag called on you for hitting him late," Kanell said. "It's one of those games where you're like in the first half, you know what, if it's close and you get a good ... I'm not saying dirty, but questionable.
“You gotta push the envelope. I would almost challenge them to like be like ‘You know what, get a 15-yarder in the first half. Draw a line somewhere, but say ‘We have to send a message.'”
The problem for Kanell is the line's already been drawn by the NFL. Hits after the whistle are specifically defined as dirty. It's not questionable to take a shot on a quarterback after the whistle; it's just outright dirty.
The good news for Brady is Kanell's comments only help to draw attention to the Broncos defense and their behavior near and/or with Brady close to and after the whistle.