It seemed like Groundhog Day in Foxboro for Bronco players and fans alike, as for the third straight game against an elite opponent, Denver dug themselves into a deep hole, made a comeback, and once again saw it fall short. The Broncos fell to New England 31-21 on Sunday, dropping their record below .500 for the second time in this short season. The Broncos fell into a 31-7 hole that was just too large of a deficit to overcome against too good an opponent. Like in their past defeats, the Broncos made a valiant comeback attempt, but due to sloppy mistakes and turnovers (Willis McGahee, I’m looking at you), Denver could not get over the hump, and for the time being, can’t seem to get over the hump against the elite teams in the league.
Manning got the Broncos off to a good start, as he had the offense on the move on their opening possession. However, just like last week, a long Demaryious Thomas reception was once again coughed up and recovered by the opposing defense, snuffing out a great scoring opportunity to start the game. After consecutive punts, Brady and the Pats drew first blood, capping off an 84 yard drive with an 8 yard scoring strike to Wes Welker, who ended up having a big game. Manning and co. matched Brady’s score with one of their own, as Manning found Jacob Tamme from the one to tie the game at 7. This is about as good as it would get for the Broncos, as the Pats marched right down the field on their very next possession, this time with Shane Vereen punching it in from one yard out. The Pats almost added another TD at the end of the half, but a brilliant stop by Von Miller forced the Pats to settle for a short field goal, as New England went into halftime with a 17-7 lead
The 3rd quarter is when the Pats for all intents and purposes put the game away. After consecutive punts by both teams, the Pats offense put together an incredible 16 play, 95 yard drive, which included an absurd 3rd and 17 conversion on a Danny Woodhead run, which Tom Brady concluded with a 1 yard sneak to extend the Patriots lead to 17. On Denver’s first play on their next possession, Manning was sacked and stripped, setting New England’s offense with gift field position. The Pats made quick work of Denver’s turnover, with Stevan Ridley finding paydirt from 8 yards out to give the Patriots a seemingly insurmountable 24 point lead
As much as you can criticize Denver for failing to show up against good teams, for which they do deserve all the criticism they get, you have to admire how the Broncos continually fight back. Manning finished off Denver’s next drive with his second TD pass of the game, this one on a nifty catch by Eric Decker, to cut the deficit to 31-14 at the close of the 3rd quarter. After forcing a New England punt, Manning and the offense had the ball at the New England 47 facing a 3rd and 1. After getting stuffed for no gain on 3rd down, Denver went for it on 4th; where Manning found a wide open Willis McGahee, only to see him commit one of the worst drops I think I’ve ever seen at an NFL level, stalling the Broncos and giving the ball back to New England. The Bronco’s defense stood strong after the miscue, as Elvis Dumervil and Wesley Woodyard sacked Brady and caused a fumble, which the Broncos recovered, giving Denver’s offense a short field to work with. Manning made quick work of New England’s D on the next possession, as he hit Brandon Stokley for his third score of the game, and with the score now at 31-21, we had a ballgame on our hands.
The Broncos defense came up huge again, as on the Patriots next possession Von Miller forced another Patriot fumble that Denver was able to recover, giving the Broncos a real shot at making this a one score game. Manning and the offense drove inside the 20, and just when it seemed like they were about to cut the deficit to single digits, McGahee coughed up the ball, as well as Denver’s chances for a comeback win. Manning fell to 4-9 career vs. his arch-rival, but through no fault of his own. Manning had another solid and productive game, throwing for nearly 350 yards and 3 TD’s, and in all honesty outplayed Brady on Sunday. It was just the same old formula that has plagued this team all season; fall into a ridiculous large hole against a good team, make a comeback, see it come up short. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Next weeks game in San Diego looms rather large now, as AFC West supremacy will be on the line Monday Night
About the Author
Written by Alex Summers
Lifelong sports fan, love the NFL, and big fan of a basketball and baseball