The New England Patriots erased a 24-point deficit, and eventually took the lead, but a Peyton Manning touchdown pass late in the game forced overtime.
Then a Ryan Allen punt bounced into Tony Carter, Nate Ebner recovered for the Patriots at the Broncos 13-yard line and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime to give New England a 34-31 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
“We turned the ball over – forced turnovers in the first half, they forced turnovers in the second half,” said interim head coach Jack Del Rio, via the team’s website. “And they did a couple things – we were playing a lot of tight coverage – they did a couple things with pick routes and wheel routes and things to try to take advantage of some of that.
“But it’s not anything that we weren’t expecting – not anything that we didn’t handle better in the first half. But ultimately they made enough plays, they got a little momentum going, they made it a game. We’re right there in the end with a chance to win the game we were just probably five yards short of where we needed to get to to have a realistic shot of making a field goal. But that’s what it was.”
Peyton Manning had his worst game of the season, completing 19 of 36 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“You go study the film. It is disappointing,” said Manning. “Certainly, you have a chance to beat a good team at their place. I still felt like we had a chance there, getting the ball there at the very end. I thought we were going to have the ball last and either we were going to score to win the game or I guess it could have ended in a tie.”
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes to lead the Patriots from a 24-0 halftime deficit for a 31-24 lead as the Patriots scored on its first five possessions of the second half. Then Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown for the Broncos, tying it at 31 to force overtime.
“I hated the way that ended in not getting a chance there to get our hands on the ball. We had two good drives in overtime. We got down there twice and I think, I can’t remember if that was a pass interference call there on one of them that was very disappointed and then all we needed was like five yards on that last play in order to give Prater a field goal attempt and couldn’t get that. Very disappointing finish to the game, for sure.”
But the Broncos were able to run.
Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries as the Broncos offense had 280 total yards rushing.
“Knowshon, he brought his A-game,” said Wes Welker. “You saw it tonight and he’s a guy that you love having on your team because that’s what he does – he brings it every night and every day in practice. You’ve got to respect that.”
Von Miller returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown and then strip-sacked Brady to force another turnover in the first quarter, setting up Moreno’s touchdown run.
“It was a pretty good first half, but the game is played for four quarters,” said Von Miller. “The Patriots came back out and they had a nice game plan. They jumped on us real quick and before you knew it they were up. The whole game was really a battle. But that’s really what we expected. A tough team, a tough battle.”
The Broncos (9-2) now move on to prepare for a tough matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
“I think by the time you start gameplanning on Tuesday, guys lifting weights and ready to go on Wednesday, it’s time to move on to Kansas City and that’s what you have to do,” said Manning.