Here are some quick-hit first impressions of the Patriots' 16-3 victory over the Broncos on Sunday . . .
- Curran: Improving little-by-little, Patriots hit crescendo in win vs. Broncos
- Edelman back in punt-return role: 'It's like Frogger' avoiding hits
- Koppen: Dion Lewis can play ’sort of like Le’Veon Bell’
- Curran's Patriots-Broncos preview review
- Butler: Sanders had edge in battles until Sunday
- Bennett on Instagram: Never been a part of something like this
- Patriots, Belichick set records with clinching victory over Broncos
* Surprise: It was Dion Lewis, not LeGarrette Blount, who shouldered the load for the Patriots against Denver's porous run defense. Lewis saw a career-high 18 carries for 95 yards, and he also caught two passes for nine yards, leading the team in touches with 20. It was the most touches Lewis has seen in a single game in his career, surpassing the 19 (15 carries, four catches) he saw in Week 1 of 2015. His previous season-high for touches was 10, which he recorded against the Jets in Week 11.
* Lewis clearly looks to be at full strength after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list. He hit holes with speed and didn't need much space to create positive play. On one 14-yard run, it seemed as though Lewis was a shoe-string tackle away from a long touchdown, and the 5-foot-8, 195-pounder even moved the pile at times, finishing his runs with power. Lewis fumbled near the goal line in the second quarter but he recovered the loose ball, and had the play been reviewed, he would have been given a touchdown because he broke the plane of the goal line. One play later, Blount was into the end zone for his franchise record 15th rushing touchdown of the season.
* Blount had a down day running the football, unable to find the same type of running room that Lewis enjoyed. The 250-pounder carried 17 times for 31 yards, a season-low, giving him his worst yards-per-carry mark since he ran 18 times for 37 yards in a win over the Browns in Week 5.
* Tom Brady finished 16-for-32 for 188 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and he was sacked twice for a 68.2 quarterback rating. He began the game without a completion on his first six attempts. It was Brady's lowest rating in a win since a Week 14 win over the Bills in 2009 (59.1).
* Brady was not helped by his teammates at times as they dropped four passes combined. On the team's final drive of the third quarter, Chris Hogan had his first drop of the season on third down, forcing a Ryan Allen punt. Julian Edelman dropped a pair while James White let one bounce off of his chest.
* Edelman (six grabs, 75 yards) continued to be Brady's most reliable target, showing toughness as he absorbed hits both in the passing game and as a punt-returner. He reeled in one toe-tapping catch near the right sideline in the second quarter when Brady lofted a pass into double-coverage. Edelman also picked up a hard-charding first down through contact later in the quarter and picked up another fresh set of downs in the third after taking a hard hit over the middle that sent him to the sidelines.
* Staying away from talented Broncos corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell saw just three targets total. They each had one catch and combined for 32 yards. James White saw eight targets and Martellus Bennett saw four.