Best and Worst: Patriots 41, Broncos 16
WORST MOMENTUM SQUISHER
After a three-and-out, Denver punt returner Isaiah McKenzie had Ryan Allen’s first punt of the night go through his arms, off of his junk, onto the ground and into the arms of rookie tight end Jacob Hollister. Two plays later the Patriots made it 7-0.
A Patriots defense which hadn’t had a big breakdown in some time allowed Emmanuel Sanders to pick up 31 on the Broncos first play from scrimmage as Malcolm Butler lost Sanders.
Dion Lewis followed an early field goal by Denver with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 14-3 and take the Denver crowd out of it a bit
CHEESED OFF? YOU BETCHA!
Martellus Bennett hooked up with Tom Brady on a 27-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter days after being released by the Packers who were pissed about Bennett going on wildcat strike while in Wisconsin.
With a third-and-goal opportunity and Dwayne Allen’s Patriots mortality staring him in the face after Martellus Bennett reeled in two passes on the first quarter of his first game back, Brady threw to Allen and it smashed off his damn hands incomplete.
AT IT AGAIN
Stephon Gilmore – who’d been plagued by penalties in addition to bad communication early in the season – got whistled for defensive holding on a third-and-6 incompletion, extending a Broncos drive.
BACK … AND TO THE LEFT
Brock Osweiler’s aforementioned incompletion plunked an innocent bystander on the Denver sideline in the dome. Flush. Square. On the money. Toupee flying.
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE
Emmanuel Sanders had a big first half and several of his catches were with Malcolm Butler in coverage but two of them – a sideline dart just after a skywalking comeback catch – were just Sanders being really good.
Dwayne Allen capped the first-half scoring by pulling in a bullet from Brady at the goal line to make it 27-9 while being held by Von Miller.
A near-strip sack by Trey Flowers turned into a flutterball from Brock Osweiler to Demaryius Thomas that extended a Broncos drive and led to Denver’s first touchdown of the night on their first drive of the second half.
MALCOLM IN THE SPIN ZONE
Butler, early in the second half, went back to being competitive and getting beat to getting turned around by Sanders. It wasn’t pretty.
MIND THE GAP
After the Broncos scored to open the second half, the Patriots answered back with a surgical, seven-play, 75-yard drive capped by Dion Lewis to get the lead back to 18.
The Broncos finally had the Patriots punting early in the fourth quarter. And then got caught with too many men on the field and the Patriots got a first down and then a touchdown.