Patriots

Patriots-Broncos Ups and Downs

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston
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Patriots receiver Wes Welker walks into the end zone for his first touchdown in the Patriots win over the Denver Broncos. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Patriots receiver Wes Welker walks into the end zone for his first touchdown in the Patriots win over the Denver Broncos. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Ups and Downs from the Patriots 31-21 win over the Broncos at Gillette.

Ups

Wes Welker

Welker is back to being Wes Welker, hauling in 13 receptions for 104 yards and his first touchdown of the season. He converted on a pair of third downs, and when Tom Brady needed to move the chains he went to #83. Nine of Welker’s receptions came in the first half, as he finished with his third straight 100+ yard week.

Welker has at least one catch in 99 straight games, dating back to his time with the Dolphins.

Run Game Does It Again (With One Exception)

For the second straight week, the Patriots racked up over 200 yards on the ground finishing with 251 rushing yards.

Every back ran hard, with Stevan Ridley leading the way with 151 yards on 28 carries. Brandon Bolden took over following Ridley’s fourth quarter fumble (more on that in a second) and finished the game strong, ending up with 54 yards on 14 carries.

Even Shane Vereen got into the mix, taking in a second quarter touchdown. And we can’t forget about Danny Woodhead, but he gets his own spot in the Ups section.

Stats: Pats-Broncos Box Score

Defense Forcing Turnovers

The Patriots D came up with three more turnovers, all at very opportune times.

The first came on Denver’s first possession of the afternoon, with Sterling Moore stripping Demaryius Thomas after the wide-out torched him downfield.

Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork once again combine on a fumble, with Ninkovich coming off the edge strong and getting to Manning. The turnover led to a Patriots touchdown, their second score in 18 seconds of play.

The third and final turnover came at the best possible time, with Willis McGahee’s fumble all but securing the victory for the Patriots. Ninkovich was in on the play again, with Jermaine Cunningham coming up with this one.

Ninkovich held himself responsible following the Week 3 loss to the Ravens, and has come up in a big way the last two weeks.

The Patriots have forced 14 turnovers in the first five weeks of the season, with five fumble recoveries in the last two weeks.

Little Woodhead Comes Up Big

The Patriots were 11-for-17 on third down, with three of those coming from the legs of Danny Woodhead. On a second quarter 3rd-and-14, Woodhead broke off 25 yards. In the third quarter, he broke off a 19-yard run on a third-and-17. Not to be forgotten, on his first third down, he ran for seven yards when the Patriots needed three.

After not seeing the field all that much in Buffalo, Woodhead ran for 47 yards on seven carries.

Read: Patriots-Broncos Live Blog

Downs

Ridley’s Fumble

Ridley’s fourth quarter fumble with 6:43 left in the fourth and the Pats leading 31-21 sullied an otherwise great day for the second-year back. He finished with 151 yards, but didn’t touch the ball after giving it up.

It will bring up a week of all the “fumble issues” talk, but luckily for Ridley and the Patriots, Willis McGahee wanted a fumble of his own on the stat sheet.

Secondary

Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning, but the secondary didn’t do themselves many favors (Moore’s forced fumble the exception).

Devin McCourty once again looked lost at times, getting called for pass interference in the end zone in the first half after not turning around on the play, and got torched by Demaryius Thomas twice late in the fourth quarter (once for 28 yards on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter).

Thomas finished with a total of 188 yards on nine receptions, as Manning finished the day with 345 yards.

Offensive Line Injuries

The O-line did a good job keeping Tom Brady upright for the most part, but Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer both left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.

4th and 5

It’s hard to argue with Bill Belichick trying to pick up the first down at this point, but the Patriots had a 31-14 lead with 8:08 left to play when Brady fumbled to give the Broncos the ball at the New England 43. Manning turned it into points, and made the game a little more interesting in the process.

It would have been much better if Brady pooched it like he did last year against the Broncos.

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