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Patriots-Broncos LIVE Blog: Pats Win 31-21

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston
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Patriots receiver Wes Welker. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Patriots receiver Wes Welker. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos meet at Gillette Stadium in another Tom Brady-Peyton Manning head-to-head match up, the 13th of their careers. Stick with CBSBostonsports.com for all the updates!

Stats: Pats-Broncos Box Score

Final: Patriots 31-21:

That was a lot more difficult than it had to be, but the Patriots hold on for a 31-21 win over the Broncos.

While the secondary looked suspect again, the Patriots defense forced three more turnovers — all fumbles — as they hold on for the victory to improve to 3-2 on the season.

Tom Brady had 223 yards and a touchdown through the air, with another one on the ground, and Wes Welker hauled in 13 catches for 104 yards.

Stevan Ridley had another big day on the ground, minus a fourth quarter fumble that nearly let Denver back in it. He should send Willis McGahee a fruit basket, thanking him for his fourth quarter fumble that all but sealed the win for the Patriots.

Plenty of postgame coverage coming up, with Patriots 5th Quarter on MyTV38, and three hours of coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

We can’t wait to hear what Bill Belichick has to say about that 4-5 on the Denver 37, and Ridley’s fumble…

4th Quarter, 2:00 –  Patriots 31-21: After two Brandon Bolden runs that set up a 3-3, Brady goes back to Welker over the middle for the first down.

Welker’s line: 13 receptions, 104 yards, one touchdown.

Patriots are 11-for-16 on third down today.

Bolden broke a nice 11 yard run following the Welker catch, and stayed in bounds to keep the clock ticking to the 2-minute warning.

4th Quarter, 3:24 – Patriots 31-21: Today’s word of the day is “fumble.”

Willis McGahee just coughed one up at the New England 11, with Jermaine Cunningham falling on the rock. No one was happier than Stevan Ridley.

The Pats have ran it twice since recovering, and none of them have been by Ridley though.

th Quarter, 5:27 – Patriots 31-21: When it rains, it pours.

Stevan Ridley, after a nice 20-yard run, coughs up the ball at the Denver 32 to give the ball back to Peyton and Company. He may have 151 yards, but that will land him in Bill Belichick’s dog house for sure.

Yep, this game just got very interesting indeed.

4th Quarter, 6:43 – Patriots 31-21: The Broncos got exactly what they wanted, scoring a touchdown in just 1:25 to make it a two score game.

Following another 3-10 conversion, Manning hit Willis McGahee for a 22 yard screen down to the New England 5, and follows that up with a touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley.

There’s plenty of time left in this one… Things could get very interesting….

4th Quarter, 8:23 – Patriots 31-14: Following a near interception, that nearly became a reception by Brandon Lloyd, on third down, the Patriots went for  a 4-5 and it was a disaster. Brady was hit, and fumbled. Nate Solder came up with the ball at the New England 43, giving Peyton Manning a nice field to work with.

Just a bad call by Bill Belichick. A punt would have pinned the Broncos deep in their own territory.

4th Quarter, 8:22 – Patriots 31-14: The Patriots once again have over 200 rushing yards, the second straight week they’ve eclipsed that mark. Ridley has 125 yards on the ground, and is primed for more as the Patriots try to kill the clock.

Brady and the Pats faced another 3rd down, so he casually went to Wes Welker for another 1st down that kept the clock ticking. Welker is up to 12 receptions for 95 yards.

4th Quarter, 10:50 – Patriots 31-14: What you lookin’ at Willis? (Sorry. Terrible joke, I know)

Willis McGahee drops an easy fourth down conversion at the Patriots 45-yard line, ending any chance of Manning driving the Broncos down the field. He was too busy looking down field before he secured the ball, and now the Patriots can eat up some more clock.

This comes after the Patriots stuff rookie Ronnie Hillman on 3-1.

4th Quarter, 13:00 – Patriots 31-14: 3-12, no problem for Tom Brady.

Brady hits old reliable Deion Branch over the middle for 25 yards, to give the Pats a fresh set of down.

However, the offensive line ran into problems after that, with Brady getting sacked on the ensuing 2nd and 3rd downs.

Patriots punt, and the Broncos have a chance to chip into the lead with 13 minutes to play.

Here are Levan Reid’s Highs and Lows from the third quarter:

The Highs

- The Patriots force a Broncos punt on their first trip on the field, with Brandon Spikes coming up with a big third down play.

- The Pats score on their second possession of the quarter, with Danny Woodhead coming up with another huge third down conversion. Tom Brady caps off the drive with a 1-yard dive into the endzone.

- Pats force yet another turnover on the Broncos second possession of the quarter, with Ninkovich and Wilfork combining on another fumble — much like they did last week in Buffalo. Stevan Ridley makes Denver pay with an 8-yard run.

The Lows

- The Pats get the ball to start the quarter and they go three and out.  Brady gets sacked on the 3rd down play by Von Miller.

- Broncos third possession of the quarter and they get on the board.  Once again Demaryuis Thomas beats Sterling Moore for a big play.  This time 38 yards and it finishes with a 2 yard touchdown pass, Peyton Manning to Eric Decker.

End 3rd Quarter, Patriots 31-14: The Pats aren’t doing much on this drive, and will face a 3-12 when the fourth quarter begins.

Brady went deep to Gronkowski on 2-10, with Gronk getting whistled for an offensive PI.

There is still a lot of football to be played, and Peyton Manning is still a pretty dangerous given how the New England secondary has played so far. Manning is 20-for-28 on the day with 280 yards and two touchdowns.

3rd Quarter, 1:08 – Patriots 31-14: The Broncos reach the end zone as Manning hooks up with Eric Decker on a two-yard touchdown reception.

Manning and Co. marched down the field 90 yards in 3:34, thanks in large part to a 45-yard hook-up with Demaryius Thomas. He had two more big third-down catches, making the Pats secondary look bad. Thomas had 65 yards himself on those two third down conversions.

McCourty was on Decker in the end zone, and Decker made a nice falling catch to bring in the score.

3rd Quarter, 4:42 – Patriots 31-7: The Pats waste little time making something out of the Manning fumble. Following a pair of penalties — PI on Denver and a False Start on the Pats — Stevan Ridley takes it in from 8 yards out. The Pats have scored two touchdowns in the last 18 seconds of play.

21 carries, 114 yards and a touchdown now for Ridley on the day.

3rd Quarter, 4:51 – Patriots 24-7: It didn’t take long for the Patriots to get the ball back. And they do it again by way of the turnover.

Rob Ninkovich hit the edge hard, and gets to Peyton Manning to force the fumble. Vince Wilfork falls on the ball at the Denver 14, giving Tom Brady and Co. a short field to work with. It’s the second week in a row those two combine on a fumble-fumble recovery.

3rd Quarter, 5:00 – Patriots 24-7: The Patriots get another huge run by Danny Woodhead on a third and long, and score another touchdown to give them a 24-7 lead.

Following a Ryan Wendell hold, the Patriots faced a 3-17. But Woodhead broke off a 19 yard run for his second huge 3rd down conversion.

After a few failed attempts to get into the end zone from short distance, with the Pats benefited from a Denver offsides, Tom Brady took care of business and put the ball over the goal line to put the Pats up 24-7.

Stevan Ridley, who broke a nice 19-yard run on the drive, is now up to 106 yards on 20 carries.

3rd Quarter, 11:24 –  Patriots 17-7: The Broncos also go three-and-out on their first possession of the second half. Chandler Jones and Brandon Spikes stuff Lance Ball on 3-4, and the Broncos are forced to punt the ball away.

Interesting to see the Broncos running on third and short. McGahee ran off the field after second down, and maybe John Fox forgot he had Peyton Manning under center.

Spikes now has three tackles on the afternoon.

3rd Quarter, 13:44 – Patriots 17-7: The Pats didn’t do much to start the second half, going three-and-out. Brady missed on a 2nd down pass to Welker over the middle, and was sacked on 3rd down by linebacker Von Miller.

The miss to Welker was just Brady’s fourth of the day, as he is now 17-for-21.

Halftime, Patriots 17-7: WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his Highs and Lows from the 2nd Quarter:

The Highs:

- 20 first downs by the Patriots. That’s all we have to say about that.

- The Pats put on a clinic on their first possession of the quarter, with Tom Brady getting everyone involved. The 14-play drive that ate up over six minutes ended with a 1-yard run by Shane Vereen. Brandon Lloyd checked in with a couple of big catches, and Ridley continued to run the ball well.

- On the Broncos second possession of the quarter, the Patriots defense forced a punt after giving up a couple of first downs but on 3rd downs. Rookie Alfonzo Dennard came up with a big play to end the drive.

The Lows:

- The Patriots should have ended the quarter with a touchdown, but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. Those four points may come back to haunt them.

- The Broncos start the quarter at the New England 24 and benefit from a bad pass interference on Devin McCourty. He didn’t turn around on the play, and on the next play Manning hits Joel Dreessen for a touchdown.

Halftime: The Patriots looked primed to punch another one into the end zone, but Brandon Bolden came up short on 2nd-and-goal, and then lost four yards on third-and-goal.

So instead of a 98-yard touchdown drive, the Patriots settle for a 23-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

The drive covered 93 yards on 16 plays in 5:01. The Patriots will have the ball to start the second half, but not getting into the end zone could come back to haunt them (just to state the obvious).

2nd Quarter, 2:00 – Patriots 14-7: The Patriots are marching as we hit the 2-minute warning. They currently have the ball at the Denver 30 and have a pair of timeouts to work with.

Danny Woodhead has the biggest play on the drive, picking up 25 yards on a 3-14 pass from Brady. Brandon Bolden takes home the silver medal with a 24-yard run on a 3-1.

The Patriots already have 18 first downs on the afternoon.

Wes Welker has 9 first-half receptions, a new career high in the first half. He’s making the most out of his playing time until Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman return and he is phased out again (I apologize is the sarcasm doesn’t translate well).

2nd Quarter, 5:03 – Patriots 14-7: Rookie safety Alfonzo Dennard comes up with a nice play on 3-5 as he knocks a Manning pass away from Brandon Stockley. Good to see the rookie not only playing, but making plays.

The Patriots will have a lot of field to work with though, as the Denver punt was downed at the New England 2-yard line. Chris Gronkowski made a nice play to down the ball, giving his brother 98 potential receiving yards.

2nd Quarter, 7:57 – Patriots 14-7: The Patriots take a 14-7 lead on a one-yard Shane Vereen touchdown run. No, you read that right. A one-yard Shane Vereen touchdown run (fantasy owners everywhere are not too happy).

The Patriots moved down the field with ease on the 14-play drive, covering 80 yards in 6:08. It was a really strong drive by the New England offensive line, keeping up with the no-huddle and giving Brady plenty of time to work.

Brandon Lloyd had a couple of big receptions, with Rob Gronkowski chipping in with a 13-yard grab along the way.

The Wes Welker Show continues, with Welker now up to seven receptions and 58 yards. Ridley is now up to 51 yards on the ground following the drive.

2nd Quarter, 14:05 – 7-7: The Broncos take advantage of a Patriots penalty, tying the game early in the second.

Devon McCourty was flagged for pass interference on Eric Decker in the end zone, and Manning easily hit an open Joel Dreessen the very next play. The play-action play fooled the Pats, with Mayo the lone defender around Dreessen.

The 10-play drive covered 80 yards in 4:03.

WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid’s Highs and Lows from the 1st Quarter:

The Highs:

- Pats D came up big on the Broncos’ first possession. Manning was moving the ball down the field, but on a 43 yard catch from Manning to Thomas, Sterling Moore causes a fumble and recovers the rock.

- Denver’s second possession of the quarter and the Pats defense gets them to turn the ball over on downs.  Good pressure up front and a sack on third down by Jerod Mayo.

- Pats second possession of the quarter and they get on the board.  A heavy dose of Stevan Ridley on the ground and catches by Wes Welker.  The 12 play drive ends with an eight yard touchdown from Tom Brady to Wes Welker.

The Lows:

- First possession of the game for the Patriots and they really do nothing.  A first down on the first play and then they turn the ball over on downs.

- Another big catch for Demaryuis Thomas on the Broncos third possession of the quarter.  It is very apparent that Sterling Moore can not guard him.

End of 1st Quarter, Patriots 7-0: It was a good fist quarter by the Patriots, although the defense has been prone to plays over the middle by Demaryius Thomas.

The Broncos have more yards (143 to New England’s 98) and have had the ball for 9:05, but the Pats no-huddle made sure they found their way into the end zone.

The quarter ended with Willis McGahee picking up a first down on a 3-1, and Bill Belichick losing a challenge on the play.

Both the Pats and Broncos are down to two timeouts.

1st Quarter, 3:08 – Patriots 7-0: The Patriots went no-huddle, and the Broncos had a tough time keeping up.

Wes Welker and Stevan Ridley marched the Patriots down the field, with the drive capped off by Welker’s first touchdown of the season. Brady made a great up-fake on the 1st and goal play, as five his seven completions on the drive went Welker’s way.

Brady’s now got 37 straight games with a touchdown pass.

Ridley continues to run the ball well, as he broke a nice 15-yard run early in the drive. He’s already up to 33 yards for the game.

The 12-play drive covers 84 yards in 4:44, and puts the Patriots up 7-0.

1st Quarter, 7:52 – 0 – 0: The Broncos picked up some yards, but the Patriots applied great pressure on Manning on a 3-5 at midfield, and Jerod Mayo gets to him for the sack (Rob Ninkovich also joined in on the fun).

Manning converted a big third down by hitting Demaryius Thomas over the middle, with the Broncos 2-for-4 on third down so far.

On the first play of the drive, Brandon Spikes sniffed out a run play and stuffed Willis McGahee for a 4-yard loss.

1st Quarter, 11:18 – 0 – 0: After picking up a first down on their first offensive play, the Patriots come up short on their next three plays. Gronk picked up the first down after going for 12 yards on a screen (after lining up as a fullback), but Brady can’t connect with Wes Welker downfield on 3-8 and the Patriots are forced to punt.

1st Quarter, 12:22 – 0 – 0: Sterling Moore was beat on a deep pass to Demaryius Thomas on a 3-5, but poked the ball out after the catch and recovered for New England.

After letting the Broncos methodically pick up yards and then hit on a big play, Moore comes up with a big play to give the Patriots the ball on their own 17.

It’s pretty clear after this drive the Broncos will be passing the ball a lot today. But did we expect anything different with #18 under center?

4:23pm: The Pats lost the opening toss, and the Broncos elect to receive.

Bill Belichick would have likely deferred anyways if they won, so we can almost chalk that up as a Patriots win.

4:20pm: It’s a rainy, sloppy day down at Gillette — perfect for football.

With these conditions, and Champ Bailey likely draping himself all over Brandon Lloyd, look for Tom Brady to do what Tom Brady does best — short passes to Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and even Deion Branch. Branch has just two receptions for 11 yards on the season, but don’t be surprised if he is a big part of the game plan this afternoon.

The Patriots run game could also be in for a big afternoon, although it will be interesting to see if Bill Belichick is upset with Stevan Ridley for his fourth quarter fumble last week in Buffalo. The Patriots didn’t lose the ball though, and Ridley’s 106 yards on the ground should more than make up for the minor miscue.

4:00pm: The Patriots and Broncos are getting ready for kickoff in what should be another classic Brady vs. Manning matchup.

The Patriots will be without tight end Aaron Heranandez and rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who are both inactive for Sunday’s tilt. But the bigger story concerns Rob Gronkowski, with ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss reporting the All Pro tight end has been dealing with “significant pain” in his hip over the last two weeks.

Gronkowski is a huge key to the Patriots offense, both in the running and the passing game, but you don’t need us to tell you that. Gronk has played through the pain, coming up big with 104 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bills. But on a slick field (it’s going to rain throughout the game on Sunday) we’ll have to see how that effects Gronkowski.

Listen LIVE: Patriots-Broncos on 98.5 The Sports Hub

As far as other inactives go, both Hightower and safety Steve Gregory are out on the New England defense. Tracy White and newly re-signed linebacker Bobby Carpenter will be filling in for the rookie Hightower, with rookie Tavon Wilson likely taking Gregory’s spot in the starting defense. We’ll see how they all handle the Manning-led Broncos.

There is some good news for the Patriots in regards to injuries, with guard Logan Mankins returning after missing last week with a hip injury. He’s presence will go a long way in protecting Brady from the Denver pass-rush duo of Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller.

Read: Patriots-Broncos Predictions

Tune in to Patriots-Broncos this Sunday at 4:25pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Following the game, tune in to 3-hours of post game coverage on the Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter on MyTV38.

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