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Brady tops Manning, Patriots beat Broncos 31-21

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Brady tops Manning, Patriots beat Broncos 31-21

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The familiar showdown had a new twist - Peyton Manning in a Denver Broncos uniform. It ended as it usually does with Tom Brady winning the matchup of marquee quarterbacks.

But not before Manning nearly pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback in a career filled with them.

In their 13th meeting, and first since Manning left the Indianapolis Colts, Brady directed four scoring marches of at least 80 yards and the Patriots won 31-21 on Sunday. He's 9-4 in his career against Manning.

``Nobody I'd rather have than Tom Brady,'' New England coach Bill Belichick said, ``but Manning's a great player.''

Manning had led his teams back in the fourth quarter to 36 comeback wins. And the Broncos (2-3) rallied from a 31-7 deficit with about five minutes left in the third quarter on Manning's scoring passes of 2 yards to Eric Decker and 5 yards to Brandon Stokley.

The Patriots (3-2) lost the ball on Stevan Ridley's fumble on their next possession and Manning completed a 28-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas to the Patriots 14-yard line. But two plays later, Denver's comeback hopes faded when Willis McGahee fumbled and Jermaine Cunningham recovered at the New England 11 with 3:42 remaining.

``We can build on that'' ability to whittle a big deficit, Manning said. ``I do think that will help us win a game at some point.''

Brady downplayed his meeting with Manning.

``It's Patriots-Broncos,'' he said. ``It was a great team win. We got some turnovers from our defense and I thought offensively capitalized at times. There were a few lulls in there, which I wish we had executed a little bit better, but for the most part it's a good day.''

Brady completed 23 of 31 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown and ran for another, operating much of the game out of a no-huddle offense.

``It's not new,'' Denver coach John Fox said. ``They've been doing this for a long, long time. They just have a good group of guys together doing it. ... Our guy (Manning) did an outstanding job today as well.''

Manning was 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns but lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack.

That led to Ridley's 8-yard run that put the Patriots ahead 31-7. Ridley led the Patriots with a career-high 151 yards rushing. They gained 251 yards on the ground, one week after rushing for 247 in a 52-28 win over the Buffalo Bills.

``It's awesome,'' Ridley said. ``It takes a lot of pressure off Brady. And that's our leader.''

The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs as they kept their offense rolling one week after gaining 580 against the Bills. The Broncos sputtered after beating the Oakland Raiders 37-6. Their previous two losses were by just six points to the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans.

``I know they're been great teams we've lost to, which still doesn't make it any easier,'' Manning said. ``We are working on things and building things. It doesn't happen right away.''

Brady and Manning first faced each other in the third game of the 2001 season. The Patriots won 44-13 in Brady's first career start.

There were plenty of close games in subsequent regular-season matchups with six of the previous seven decided by seven points or less.

But, Manning said, ``this is not a team you want to fall behind to.''

The Patriots led 17-7 at halftime and 31-7 after three quarters. Brady and his runners kept slicing through the Denver defense with a balanced attack. They went ahead to stay, 14-7, midway through the second quarter on a 14-play drive (seven pass plays and seven runs) capped by Shane Vereen's 1-yard run.

Ridley had his third 100-yard rushing game of his career, all this season. Wes Welker, the NFL's leading receiver last year with 122 catches, had 13 for 104 yards.

``There were a few times where I didn't get open,'' he said, ``but for the most part I feel like I got open a lot and was able to make some plays.''

The Broncos wasted an excellent opportunity on their first series. Manning hit Thomas with a 43-yard completion to the Patriots 10-yard line, but Sterling Moore stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. The Patriots went four-and-out on the ensuing possession then the Patriots scored on their next three possessions - 84 yards to Brady's 8-yard pass to Welker, 80 yards to Vereen's touchdown and 93 yards to Stephen Gostkowski's 23-yard field goal.

Denver did tie the game 7-7 on Manning's 1-yard pass to Joel Dreessen but didn't reach the end zone again until Manning hit Decker to end a 90-yard march, cutting the lead to 31-14 with 1:08 left in the third.

But Manning couldn't bring the Broncos all the way back.

``A week ago, we put it all together,'' Fox said. ``I would have expected us to put it all together more this week.''

But Brady and his offense is a lot tougher than the Raiders.

``You have to be balanced and I think we were doing a very good job when we're calling the runs,'' Brady said.

Notes: McGahee rushed for just 51 yards on 14 carries after gaining more than 100 in two of his previous three games. ... The Patriots rushed for more than 200 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 1978. ... New England outgained Denver 444 yards to 402.

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Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt

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@AdrianPeterson

Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt

Luke Kuechly was just trying to make a tackle.

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the Carolina star dove to wrap up Adrian Peterson and, like many, many, many before him, failed to bring the RB down.

Unfortunately for Kuechly, something else happened on the play that is going to help it live on much longer than your routine defensive mistake.

That something, of course, is that Peterson's cleat came off in the collision and lodged itself in Kuechly's facemask. And the uniqueness of that is why Peterson is now selling T-shirts commemorating it:

"I thought it was pretty cool," Peterson said Thursday in the 'Skins' locker room when asked why he felt moved to create the shirts, of which there are three to choose from on his site. "My kids got a big kick out of it. Obviously, the Internet did as well."

No. 26 has carried the ball 2,651 times in his career but said he's never had an attempt go like that one that involved his footwear and Kuechly's headgear.

However, because he's a legend, Peterson was able to deal with the lost shoe and still go on to pick up a nice chunk of yards as well as a first down.

"As I'm breaking free and I feel my shoe coming off, the only thing on my mind is, 'OK, let me make sure I plant my foot in a way where I don't slip,'" he explained. "That was the only thing I was focusing on on that play."

Will Kuechly get a shirt, though? After all, without him, they wouldn't exist in the first place.

"I might send him one," Peterson said.

What's lower: the odds of Kuechly wearing that shirt should Peterson ever send it along or the odds of another shoe finding its way into the linebacker's facemask? 

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Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

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USA Today Sports

Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden joked about optimism when going over the team's injury report, but that might be the coach's only way to deal with the current situation. 

Receivers Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson did not practice on Thursday, and their status for Sunday seems murky at best. Crowder was spotted at Redskins Park using a scooter to keep his weight off his injured ankle, and while Richardson was seen walking around, his knee remains an issue. 

There was some good news, however, that Chris Thompson and Shawn Lauvao practiced, albeit in a limited role. 

Getting Thompson back on the field would be a big help for the Redskins offense, and alleviate some pressure off Adrian Peterson. The future Hall of Famer did not practice Wednesday as he is dealing with a host of injuries, including his shoulder and knee. 

The one player Gruden said he did not have optimisim in a return this week was rookie safety Troy Apke. There has been some conversation about possibly moving him to the injured reserve, but that has not happened yet. 

The Redskins currently have one open roster spot as the team released veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood earlier this week. With all the concerns at wideout, maybe Washington uses that spot to bring up a practice squad player to support the unit. 

UPDATE (5:20 p.m.): The Redskins announced that they have elevated receiver Jehu Chesson from their practice squad to the active roster.

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