Best and worst: Patriots 16, Broncos 3
BEST EARLY BREAK
After the Patriots went three-and-out to open the game, Ryan Allen’s punt was muffed by Jordan Norwood and recovered at the Denver 31 by rookie Jonathan Jones.
After a penalty flag was spied on the field after a Patriots punt, there was brief confusion over what the call was. After a moment, referee Walt Anderson got on the mic and announced, “There was no foul on the play. The flag fell out … mistakenly.”
WRONG WAY TO BREAK A PERCEPTION
Tom Brady, who’s historically labored when playing the Broncos in Denver, started the day 0 for 6 with several ugly misfires.
MOST UNREMARKABLE PASS PROTECTION
Dion Lewis, kept in to help keep Tom Brady clean, gave a somewhat less-than-stout body check to Denver’s Jared Crick on the way through en route to a strip sack of Tom Brady. Joe Thuney recovered.
With the Broncos on the move and Trevor Siemian throwing lasers, the Broncos were on the verge of breaking a 3-3 tie in the first quarter. Until Siemian’s throw to the flat intended for Emmanuel Sanders was undercut by Logan Ryan.
LOT GOING ON PLAY OF THE DAY
Dion Lewis, burrowing for the goal line in the second quarter, reached the ball out and seemed to hover it over the white before it was knocked loose. A would-be touchdown was about to be a would-be turnover until Lewis flashed out a tentacle and gobbled the ball back in. LeGarrette Blount pounded it in on the next play.
The Patriots reeled off a methodical 10-play drive before the half that had the dual benefit of killing time and getting them out of a field-position hole even if the drive didn’t end with points. The Broncos, not wanting to make a costly special teams blunder late, allowed New England to run the clock down before punting then went to the half with three timeouts in hand without trying to advance downfield. Neither team wants to make the momentum swinging mistake.
TINY WINDOW AWARD
On consecutive plays in the third quarter, Tom Brady hit Dion Lewis on an option route for a gain of 3 and then Julian Edelman on third-and-3 with passes that had microscopic windows for Brady to throw the ball into without it getting whacked down.
ADJUSTMENT OF THE DAY
On third-and-6 from the Denver 45 with 7:29 remaining and the Patriots up 10-3, the Patriots needed a first down to get into field goal range or they were likely playing the field position game and punting again. The Broncos stationed two linebackers in the short middle where Julian Edelman was feasting. When Edelman approached his spot and saw company, he re-routed with a sidewards hop and Brady looped it over the top for a completion and the first down that led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Stephen Gostkowski. Coming back to the place where he missed a PAT that seemed to start a bit of a downward spiral, Gostkowski kept stacking up solid Sundays by making two field goals and his extra point. The field goals were from 45 and 40.