Ryan L. Fox
In his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career, Tom Brady has had a .500 or winning record against 31 NFL Teams. However against the Denver Broncos, Brady owns a career record of 6-9, including playoffs. This record also includes a 2-7 record, including playoffs, in the Mile High City. This past Sunday, the New England Patriots traveled to Denver to face the Broncos in a Week 15 showdown with lots of playoff implications.
Broncos won the opening toss and elected to defer to the 2nd half. Patriots opened up the game with possession at their own 24 but were forced into a 3 and out. Patriots P Ryan Allen booted the ball and it seemed like the Broncos would get the ball in decent field position. However PR Jordan Norwood muffed the punt and Pats DB Jonathan Jones was able to recover at the Broncos 31. The Broncos defense forced another 3 and out and the Pats had to settle for a 45 yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski to make it 3-0.
After the two teams exchanged punts with one another, the Broncos got the ball back at their 38 yard line. They then proceeded to drive down the field to the Pats 15 yard line as the Pats forced a stop on third down. The Broncos were forced to settle on a 33 yard field goal by K Brandon McManus to tie things up 3-3.
The Broncos looked poised to go up big early as they drove down to the Pats 14 yard line to end the first quarter. Then on the opening play of the second quarter, Pats CB Logan Ryan intercepted a pass by Broncos QB Trevor Siemian and returned it to the Broncos 48. After being sacked on first down, Brady was able to hook up with WR Julian Edelman for a 17-yard pass down to the Broncos 33. It was the first completion of the game for Brady after going 0-for-6 in the first quarter (last time was back in 2003 in a 16-6 win over the New York Giants at home). The Pats continued to drive down the field before finishing off with a 1-yard rushing TD by RB LeGarrette Blount, his 15th of the season which set a new franchise record. Gostkowski made the extra point and gave the Pats the lead again, 10-3.
That 10-3 score remained throughout the rest of the second quarter as the two teams went in to halftime. After going 0-for-6 at the beginning of the game, Brady finished the rest of the way going 8-for-10 with 73 yards to finish with a stat line of 8-for-16 (50.0%) for 73 yards and 0 TDs. Running back Dion Lewis led the ground game for the Pats, carrying the rock 11 times for 59 yards (5.4 ypc) while receiver Julian Edelman led all Pats receivers with 6 targets, 4 catches, and 50 yards receiving.
The Broncos got the ball in the second half as then both teams proceeded to exchange punts with one another for the first 5 minutes and 20 seconds of the half. The Pats got the ball back with 10:40 left in the third quarter and proceeded to go on a 11-play, 61 yard drive in 5:12 before settling for a 40 yard Gostkowski field goal to extend their lead 13-3.
After that field goal, it became a game of hot potato as each team kept exchanging punts with one another. This went on throughout the remainder of the third quarter and well into the fourth quarter. Then with a little over 8 minutes remaining in the fourth, the Pats extended their lead on a 21 yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 16-3.
From then on out, the Pats defense just suffocated the Broncos offense for the rest of the game, snuffing out the Broncos’ last chances late in the 4th quarter with Pats S Devin McCourty picking off Siemian with less than 20 seconds left to seal the 16-3 victory for his team.
Brady ended up finishing the game going 16-for-32 (50.0 %) for 188 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INT for a QB rating of 68.2, his lowest QB rating of the season. Running back Dion Lewis ended up finishing the game with game highs in carries (18), yards (95), and yards per carry (5.3). Receiver Julian Edelman finished the game 6 catches on 12 targets for 75 yards, all team highs. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski also finished the game 3-for-3 in field goals, the second time in three weeks where he had a perfect kicking game of multiple field goals since Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams (Gostkowski finished 4-for-4 in that game).
With that victory, the Patriots moved to 12-2 for the season. They also clinched the AFC East for the 8th year in a row since 2008, the last time that they didn’t win their division. This also is marked the 14th time during the Brady-Belichick Era that the Patriots won the AFC East.
They will play next Saturday for a Christmas Eve 1:00 p.m. at home where they will welcome in the New York Jets into Gillette.
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