Patriots-Broncos in real time:
4:26-We’re underway, Peyton Manning’s 1st play is an incomplete pass to Demaryius Thomas. Jacob Tamme with an 11-yard catch and run.
4:28-Peyton with a 10-yard run on 3rd and 5, um fail.
4:30-Jerod Mayo with a pressure on Manning that forced him to throw it away.
4:31-43-yard catch by Thomas but Sterling Moore punched it away then recovered the fumble himself. Great play after getting beat deep, Devin McCourty crushed Thomas on the short return.
4:34-Gronk takes a screen and runs over a Bronco for a 12-yard gain.
4:35-Patriots go 3 and out but Broncos run into punter Zoltan Mesko. Denver retains possession, it’s only a 5-yard penalty so not fatal.
4:40-Brandon Spikes tackles Willis McGahee for a 4-yard loss.
4:41-15-yard grab by Thomas on 3rd down, McCourty was right there but he made a nice catch and held on.
4:43-Mayo and Rob Ninkovich sack Manning on 3rd down. Patriots D is playing well to start this one.
4:46-15-yard catch and run by Wes Welker, 2 Broncos run into each other. Linebacker Joe Mays is shaken up on the play.
4:49-7-yard run for Stevan Ridley, he’s got such a quick first step and he doesn’t dance behind the line of scrimmage (cough Laurence Maroney).
4:50-Pretty catch 9-yard catch by Welker, the pass was right on him when he turned his head. 15-yard run by Ridley and the Patriots are in hurryup mode.
4:51-Brady and Welker are cooking, 8-yard catch for another 1st down.
4:52-Brandon Bolden’s 1st carry goes for 5 yards. Von Miller tackles Bolden for a 3-yard loss on the next play.
4:53-9-yard catch for Brandon Lloyd, 1st and Goal for the Pats. 1st touchdown catch of the season for Welker (8-yards) on the next play. Surgical drive by New England (11 plays, 84 yards), Denver had no chance to catch their breath or hope to stop them. 7-0 Patriots, that was Brady’s 37th straight game with a TD pass (3rd all-time behind Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas).
4:57-The replay by CBS showed that Denver cornerback Chris Harris froze on Brady’s pump fake, allowing Welker to get more space on him.
4:59-30-yard catch for Thomas, which he caught with one hand. Damn, that was impressive.
5:03-McGahee gets a 1st down (1 yard) on 3rd and 1.
Patriots 7, Broncos 0 after 1 quarter but Denver has it 1st and 10 at the New England 24 to start the 2nd quarter.
5:07-Dumb challenge by the Patriots (something you can rarely say) which doesn’t work, they thought McGahee didn’t get the 1st down. He did.
5:08-Pass knocked down by Chandler Jones, his 1st notable play of the game. More of those please.
5:09-McCourty gets called for pass interference (right call) after not turning his head (like always) while he defended Eric Decker in the end zone. Next play, 1-yard TD pass to Joel Dreessen on a simple rollout. 7-7 Broncos tie it up w/14:05 left 2nd quarter.
5:15-14-yard catch for Welker, another 1st down. Somewhere Julian Edelman (out for a 2nd straight game) weeps in a darkened condo.
5:17-7-yard run by Woodhead converts on 3rd and 3.
5:18-15-yard catch for Lloyd. Nice to have Gene Steratore (aka Mr. Deed’s butler) back on the field as an NFL referee.
5:21-10-yard catch for Lloyd down to the 1, before the Broncos can challenge it, the Patriots snap it quickly and Shane Vereen gets a 1-yard TD run (his 1st of the season). 14-7 Patriots. Fantasy football nerd aside: it is torture owning Patriots running backs, Belichick loves being Bud Kilmer (Varsity Blues) and pulling the best RB at the goal line for no apparent reason.
5:26-Brandon Stokley (who just caught a 5-yard pass) owes everything to Peyton. What are the odds that he’d still be in the NFL without him?
5:29-9-yard run for McGahee, he is still getting it done.
5:30-Peyton had plenty of time but he overthrew Tamme a hair. Alfonzo Dennard was in coverage and he knocks it away from Stokley on the next play. This is his NFL debut, that’s the way to start.
5:32-Britton Colquitt pins the Patriots on their own 2 with a perfect punt.
5:34-9 catches for Welker this half which sets a new record for him. 15 completions to 3 different receivers for Brady.
5:35-4-yard loss for Bolden then Daniel Fells drops a wide open catch, is it August?
5:36-Big play, 25-yard catch and run for Woodhead on 3rd and 14. He’s having his best game of the season, it’s amazing what happens when you limit his snaps.
5:36-24-yard run for Bolden gets New England down to Denver’s 31 at the 2-minute warning. Another TD on this drive would be huge, it would put them up 2 TDs with the 2nd half kickoff coming to them as well.
5:41-10-yard catch for Gronk, who has never been tackled by the first defender in his life.
Patriots are in the red zone.
5:41-Sick spin move by Ridley and then another carry gets it down to the 2-yard line. 2nd and Goal w/27 seconds left. 4th possession for the Pats today, 3rd of 10+ plays. That’s the best way to neutralize Peyton.
5:43-Bolden doesn’t score, tackled at the 1 then Miller tackles him for a 4-yard loss. Dumb playcalling, you have to look for Gronk in that position. Stephen Gostkowski hits a 23-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Patriots with two seconds left in the 1st half.
Halftime: Patriots 17, Broncos 7. Very solid 1st half from the Patriots although you feel like they should be up by more given the way they’ve gone up and down the field on the Broncos. If they score, especially a TD, on the 1st drive of the 2nd half, that’ll make it really hard for Peyton to engineer a comeback.
6:03-3 and out for the Patriots, Brady got happy feet and Miller sacked him for his troubles.
6:06-11-yard run for McGahee, nice seal block by former Patriot Dan Koppen.
6:07-How does that make sense? Jim Nantz and Phil Simms claim Peyton didn’t look at the tapes from last season’s Patriots-Broncos game but his old Colts-Patriots games, wait what?
6:08-Patriots force a 3 and out from the Broncos, the immortal Lance Ball got the 3rd down carry. Don’t ask me why, maybe Josh McDaniels got to call one play for his old team.
6:11-1st play Brady looks for Fells on a deep pass, not exactly what we want. Not that he had a chance, Brady overthrew it. 19-yard run for Ridley on the next play (he’s up to 92 rushing yards today).
6:12-Haha Broncos called for 12 men (or 14) on the field, Brady snapped the ball fast to get it while the 3 Denver players ran off but were still on the field.
6:14-A hold by Ryan Wendell-Patriots center-wipes out a 1st down catch by Gronk.
6:15-Wow, 3rd and 17 but Woodhead gets a 19-yard run. That play won’t be on the Broncos highlight reel for 2012 at the end of the season. Ah yes, Nantz’s first reference to “Little Danny Woodhead.” Somewhere Rex Ryan talks to himself.
6:17-10 catches for Welker after an 11-yard reception. Not bad for a guy that was being phased out of the offense at the beginning of the season.
6:19-Ridley goes over 100 yards rushing for the 3rd time in 5 weeks. 1st and Goal Patriots from the 6.
6:20-Elvis Dumervil jumped offside, first time all day we’ve heard his name. The Raiders think the Broncos have shown great poise and restraint on this drive.
6:21-Brady gets the TD on a quarterback sneak. The Broncos completely melted down on that drive with the penalties and Woodhead’s improbable first down run. Patriots looking great, up 24-7. Your move Peyton. The Metro’s Richard Branson is this week’s celebrity sitting with Robert Kraft in the owner’s box.
6:27-Ninkovich sacks Manning which causes a fumble, Wilfork recovers it at the Denver 14. It’s starting to look like the games against the Broncos last season, no Tebow but same blowout result.
6:28-Mays called for pass interference on Vereen, 1st and Goal for the Patriots.
6:30-8-yard touchdown run by Ridley and the rout is on. It is being reviewed but it looks like he stretched out far enough to get the ball over the line. Touchdown, 31-7 Patriots and suddenly 45-10 (the score from the playoff game last season) looks very realistic.
6:37-Jones with a takedown of Manning that forced an incompletion. 100 yards receiving for Thomas, he’s a beast but Decker has been completely invisible.
6:39-Wow, beautiful 45-yard catch by Thomas.
6:41-2-yard TD catch by Decker, of course McCourty was in on coverage. Not worried yet, Broncos cut it to 31-14 w/1:08 left in 3rd quarter.
6:45-Gronkowski gets called for offensive pass interference when he basically dope slapped a Bronco.
Patriots 31, Broncos 14 after 3 quarters. If New England takes more time off the clock on this drive and scores, that should do it.
6:49-Patriots convert another long 3rd down, Brady hits Branch for 25 yards (his 1st catch of the game). Clutch like always.
6:51-2 sacks in a row for the Broncos makes the Patriots have to punt. This is getting kind of interesting.
6:55-McCourty tackles Ronnie Hillman for no gain on 3rd and 1, next play McGahee drops an easy catch that would have been a 1st down. Patriots defense gets lucky but we’ll take it.
7:00-5-yard catch by Welker for a 1st down, that is a sneaky big 3rd down conversion.
7:04-Miller dropped a sure interception that Lloyd dropped on the deflection. No worries, Pats go for it on 4th and 5 and Brady is sacked by Dumervil. He fumbled by Nate Solder recovered it. No clue why New England went for it there, why not pin them deep?
7:06-Another nice play for Dennard, breaking a long pass up to Decker.
7:08-5-yard TD catch by Stokley (20th of his career from Manning) and it’s a 10-point game (31-21) w/6:43 left. Patriots obviously need to work on closing out opponents that are on life support.
7:11-Against Coach Simms’ advice, the Broncos chose to squib kick it but Gronk recovers it without an issue.
7:13-20-yard run for Ridley, he is still on fire. Denver doesn’t have a prayer to stop him.
7:16-Yikes, Ridley fumbles in Denver territory (almost forgot his issues with that last season) then Tamme catches an 18-yard pass. 3rd straight 300-yard game for Peyton.
7:18-28-yard catch for Thomas and the Broncos are in the red zone at the speed of light.
7:20-And McGahee puts it on the ground. Ninkovich caused it (he’s played very well) and Jermaine Cunningham of all people falls on it. Said it before but that should do it.
7:23-9-yard catch for Welker who goes over 100 yards but more importantly converts on 3rd down. Another 1st down by Bolden leads to a 1st down and takes it to the 2-minute warning.
Final-Patriots 31, Broncos 21. The Pats didn’t make it easy on themselves or their fans but they got the win which is all that matters. Brady improves to 9-4 in his career against Peyton.