By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Follow along as the Patriots take on the Broncos in Denver on Sunday Night Football!
Final: Patriots 41, Broncos 16
The Patriots have won five straight and are 7-2 on the season. They start their toughest stretch of the season off with a great win in a tough road environment, albeit against a pretty terrible Broncos team.
Stick with us throughout the night for complete coverage of this victory, or check back in early tomorrow morning. It’s late, so I won’t fault you for going to bed.
4th Quarter, 2:00: Two minutes to go in this one. If you haven’t gone to bed yet, what are you waiting for?
4th Quarter, 3:37: Some nice stat-padding by Cooks, who took a short pass from Hoyer and turned it into a 27-yard gain.
4th Quarter, 4:30: Yep, it’s Brian Hoyer time.
4th Quarter, 4:33: Osweiler sandwiched a five-yard completion between a pair of incomplete passes, and the Broncos punt it away after a quick three-and-out.
Now it’s Brian Hoyer time, right????
4th Quarter, 5:17: Brady can’t connect with Gronk on a fourth-and-3, and the Broncos will take over at their own 25.
4th Quarter, 6:25: Nope, it’s still Brady out there for the Patriots.
4th Quarter, 6:44: It was only a matter of time until Osweiler completed a pass to the Patriots. Fittingly, it came as Cris Collinsworth was telling the world that Osweiler was having a “nice” night and looked sharp.
Brock Star threw to A.J. Derby into double coverage on a third-and-5, and Patrick Chung picked it off for his 10th career interception.
Seriously though, can we get some Brian Hoyer?
4th Quarter, 9:04 — Patriots 41, Broncos 16
That should just about do it, folks. The Patriots go 94 yards down the field and take advantage of another dumb special teams play by the Broncos, as Brady hits James White for a 6-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
Brady has completed 25 of his 32 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. We may see some Jimm…. Brian Hoyer in this one.
4th Quarter, 12:16: The Patriots had to punt it away, but the Broncos special teams comes through with another dumb play, getting flagged for too many men on the field. Ryan Allen must have been studying Brady’s quick snaps.
It gives the ball back to Brady and the New England offense. They get a fresh set of downs on the Denver 36.
4th Quarter, 14:09: Third-and-9 for the Patriots, no problem.
Brady goes to Gronk, who was 1-on-1 with Will Parks, and the end tight end moves the chains with a 14-yard reception.
End 3rd Quarter — Patriots 34, Broncos 16
The quarter comes to an end with Danny Amendola hauling in a 16-yard reception. James Develin got in on the fun the play before with a six-yard reception on a second-and-4 pass from Brady. Nine different Patriots have a reception tonight, with Brady going 17-for-21.
3rd Quarter, 1:35: The Broncos punt it away from their own 44 after moving the chains twice. Osweiler had a chance to hit Thomas for a big gain (with Gilmore in some horrible coverage on the play), but the pass went off his hands and fell incomplete.
The umpire was taken out during Denver’s punt and is now being carted off. He took a nasty backwards spill, but looks to be OK as he heads off the field.
3rd Quarter, 4:36 — Patriots 34, Broncos 16
The Patriots answered Denver’s touchdown in quick fashion, going 75 yards down the field in just 3:18. After the big receptions from Gronk and Cooks to get it started, Lewis got three straight carries that went for 20 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run up the middle. Brady called for the hurry up on Lewis’ TD run, and caught the Broncos with just 10 defenders on the field.
3rd Quarter, 6:14: Next play Brandin Cooks gets in on the fun, hauling in a 25-yard pass from Brady down to the Denver 25.
3rd Quarter, 7:10: Facing a second-and-11, the Pats go play action and Brady hits Gronk for 26 yards to the 50-yard line. They make it look so darn easy sometimes (most times).
3rd Quarter, 7:54 — Patriots 27, Broncos 16
Osweiler found Demaryius Thomas over the middle in the end zone (Gilmore was giving chase and hit him as he made the catch) for a Broncos touchdown, making this one a little more interesting after the opening drive of the second half.
It was a 13-play drive that covered 75 yards in 7:06, aided by Osweiler/Trey Flowers’ third down completion to Thomas.
3rd Quarter, 9:32: For some reason, the Patriots left Sanders open on a third-and-5. He turned it into a 23-yard gain down to the New England 8-yard line.
3rd Quarter, 14:22: Trey Flowers hit Osweiler’s arm as the QB threw a third-and-10 pass, but it flew (wobbled) right into the arms of Demaryius Thomas for a 17-yard gain for Denver. The pass looked destined to get picked with McCourty in great position had Osweiler gone to his intended target, but instead it’s a fresh set of downs for Denver.
3rd Quarter, 14:56: The second half is underway, and it started with Elandon Roberts crushing Brock Osweiler as he went for Sanders on a first down pass.
Sanders couldn’t come away with the snag, despite Malcolm Butler being on the coverage for New England.
Halftime — Patriots 27, Broncos 9
Halfway through this one and the Patriots are cruising. Tom Brady has completed 12 of his 16 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Rex Burkhead has three receptions, including a 14-yard touchdown, to go with 23 yards on the ground on six carries.
Dion Lewis, who returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, also has six carries and leads all New England rushers with 28 yards.
Dwayne Allen caught his first pass of the season, an 11-yard touchdown just before the half, and has also come up with some big blocks. Rob Gronkowski leads all pass catchers with 34 yards off of two receptions, and in vintage Brady fashion, eight different players have a reception in this one.
Emmanuel Sanders is having a great game for Denver, punishing Malcolm Butler and any other corner the Patriots throw at him for 114 yards on five receptions. Brock Osweiler has 128 passing yards on the night.
But the Denver special teams doomed them in the first half, as they muffed a punt return, gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return and had another punt blocked to give the Patriots great field position (leading to a field goal).
The Broncos will get the ball to start the second half, assuming they don’t fumble the return.
2nd Quarter, 00:25 — Patriots 27, Broncos 9
Dwayne Allen has a catch! A touchdown catch!
The tight end’s first reception in a Patriots uniform goes for an 11-yard score from Brady, giving the Patriots a 27-9 lead. He made the nice snag with Von Miller all over him. The Broncos linebacker was flagged for defensive holding on the play, which was declined.
The Patriots marched 75 yards down the field on nine plays, taking 2:11 off of the clock.
2nd Quarter, 1:07: The Pats are threatening, as Brady hits Gronk for 22 yards over the middle down to the Denver 11.
2nd Quarter, 1:59: Dion Lewis picked up 13 yards on two carries ahead of the two-minute warning. Good to see him back out there after making a trip to the medical tent earlier.
He did have a blunder on the kickoff though, forgetting to kneel before tossing it to the ref. The ref casually gave it back to him though, which is odd.
Bad news for the Patriots special teams, as Matthew Slater suffered a hamstring issue and is doubtful to return. That’s concerning considering the special teams captain has already missed two months of the season with a hamstring injury.
2nd Quarter, 2:40 — Patriots 20, Broncos 9
Osweiler went to former Patriots great A.J. Derby on third-and-7, but the tight end was taken down by Jonathan Jones for a one-yard loss. The Patriots declined a pass interference call on Bennie Fowler on the play.
Broncos settle for a field goal to cut into New England’s lead.
2nd Quarter, 3:40: Sanders is up to 114 yards now, after another reception in front of Butler.
Butler actually played some good D this time, and just missed swatting the ball away.
2nd Quarter, 6:42: Another third down for Denver, another conversion for Sanders. Malcolm Butler was back on the Denver receiver, and watched him haul in a 23-yard pass to the New England 49.
Sanders has 105 receiving yards on the night. Yikes.
2nd Quarter, 8:47 — Patriots 20, Broncos 6
James White came up about six inches short of a first down on a third-and-4 run, so the Patriots settle for another Gostkowski field goal. His 28-yard boot gives New England a 14-point lead, but it could have (should have?) been bigger if the Patriots could cash in on their red zone opportunities.
The Pats have one touchdown in their three red zone trips. Their struggles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line continue.
At least they’re not this guy on the sidelines:
2nd Quarter, 9:55: Ruling on the field stands, and the Patriots are down to their final timeout. Not a great few minutes by Bill Belichick.
2nd Quarter, 9:55: After using a time out, the Patriots are challenging the play after all. So we’ll see what Walt Coleman thinks about it shortly.
2nd Quarter, 9:55: Brady went to Gronkowski and it appeared the two hooked up on a 19-yard touchdown, but it was ruled incomplete on the field. Gronk made a nice diving grab at the goal line, and it looked like he got his giant mitts under the ball, but the ball was wobbling as he rolled into the end zone so it would be a tough call to overturn via challenge.
The Pats had to burn a timeout anyways as the play clock ran out before they could get organized.
2nd Quarter, 10:38: Another special teams blunder for the Broncos, as Burkhead rushes in and blocks Riley Dixon’s punt. The Patriots take over at the Denver 30.
That guy does everything, huh?
2nd Quarter, 11:18: Jamal Charles was just swallowed up by Kyle Van Noy and Devin McCourty on a second down run, taken down for a one-yard loss. Sets up a third-and-9 for Denver.
2nd Quarter, 12:10: Osweiler felt the pressure of the New England pass rush, scrambled and threw it away on third-and-6, but was bailed out thanks to a Gilmore hold downfield. It keeps the Denver drive going, and gives more fuel for the Gilmore haters out there.
2nd Quarter, 13:38 — Patriots 17, Broncos 6: Justin Simmons had himself a huge red zone stand, getting to Brady on third-and-goal to stall the New England drive. James White whiffed on his block, allowing Simmons to get to Brady.
So instead of adding seven to their lead, the Patriots settle for three points off a 25-yard field goal by Gostkowski.
The red zone struggles continue for the Patriots. And to make matters worse, there’s been another trip to the medical tent…
At least Dion Lewis has made his way back to the New England bench. Chances are if he was concussed, he wouldn’t be there.
2nd Quarter, 14:14: Brady went looking for Allen over the middle in the end zone on a play action pass, but Will Parks was able to bat the pass away before Allen could come down with his first catch of the season.
End 1st Quarter — Patriots 14, Broncos 6
The Patriots are threatening as the first quarter comes to a close, and will face a second-and-7 from the Denver 5 when play resumes.
Lewis was hit hard on a a first down carry, taking a big pop from safety Justin Simmons after a three-yard gain, and has gone to the medical tent on the sideline.
1st Quarter, 1:23: Burkhead needed an inch, and he picked up three yards to the left. He got a great block from Allen to open a big hole for the back, and the drive continues for the Patriots.
Gillislee probably would have lost a yard in that scenario, which is why he is a healthy scratch this evening.
1st Quarter, 1:40: Facing a third-and-1 at the Denver 23, Brady called his own number for a play that he usually converts. But his knee was down before he crossed the first-down line, and the Pats will go for it on fourth-and-inches.
1st Quarter, 2:39: Another snap for Bennett, another catch for the tight end. Two for two is a pretty good start.
1st Quarter, 5:09: Brady felt some pressure from Von Miller on first down, but was able to get a quick pass off to Martellus Bennett for a 27-yard gain.
Bennett now has more catches in a Patriots uniform than Dwayne Allen this season.
1st Quarter, 5:18: McManus wisely booted this kickoff out of the end zone. No shot for Lewis to take that one to the house.
1st Quarter, 5:18 — Patriots 14, Broncos 6
Another trip down the field thanks to Sanders, and another trip down the field at ends with just a field goal. This time it was a 33-yarder off the foot of McManus.
Osweiler went looking for Jamal Charles on a slant on third-and-10 from the New England 15, but his pass was too high and the back couldn’t corral it as it bounced off his hands.
1st Quarter, 7:36: Sanders is having his way with the New England secondary. This time it was Jonathan Jones he beat on a third-and-5, taking a short pass over the middle 38 yards to the New England 36.
Butler moved over to cover Cody Latimer after drawing Sanders on the first drive, but the change in personnel on Sanders hasn’t led to a change in outcome for the Patriots.
1st, 8:24 — Patriots 14, Broncos 3
This is just an abysmal start for the Denver special teams unit. Dion Lewis took McManus’ kickoff in the front of the end zone, and raced down the sideline for a 103-yard kickoff return for a score.
After juking out McManus, Devontae Booker was the only Bronco with a chance at Lewis. But his shove from behind only gave Lewis an extra boost as he went down the sideline, right in front of the Denver bench.
1st Quarter, 8:39 — Patriots 7, Broncos 3
Denver got down the field, thanks to that big connection between Osweiler and Sanders, but had to settle for a 39-yard field goal from McManus.
Osweiler went looking for Demaryius Thomas over the middle on third-and-2, but Stephon Gilmore was able to put a hit on Thomas as the ball got there and disrupt the play.
1st Quarter, 10:12: Emmanuel Sanders is giving Malcolm Butler some issues early in this one.
Osweiler hit the 5-foot-11 receiver for 31 yards on his first pass of the game, and then connected with him for 13 yards on third-and-5.
1st Quarter, 12:43 — Patriots 7, Broncos 0
You just can’t give the Patriots new life. Brady hit Rex Burkhead over the middle and the back did the rest, taking it 14 yards into the end zone. Burkhead was lined up wide with James Develin in the backfield.
That “drive” was all Burkhead, as he took a short pass from Brady and turned it into a 10-yard gain on the play before his touchdown.
1st Quarter, 13:23: The Patriots went three and out to start, with Brady’s third-and-5 pass to Brandin Cooks getting batted away by Bradley Roby, but the Denver special teams gave them the ball right back.
Isaiah McKenzie muffed Ryan Allen’s punt, and Jacob Hollister pounced on it at the Denver 24. Surprised McKenzie didn’t fair catch it, but it gives the Patriots new life.
Hollister is now the fourth tight end on the roster, but he found a way to make an impact on special teams. Good for the rookie.
1st Quarter, 15:00: Brandon McManus’ opening kick went through the end zone, so the Patriots will start things at their own 25-yard line.
Pregame — 8:25 p.m.: Vance Joseph is playing some mind games with Bill Belichick, and in doing so, is likely having the time of his life.
The Patriots lost the coin toss, so the Broncos deferred to the second half. The Pats will get the ball first, and won’t have a shot at the double score.
Pregame — 7:00 p.m.: Martellus Bennett is indeed active for the Patriots.
But there are a few interesting names on the inactive list, starting with running back Mike Gillislee. The Pats are going with their stable of pass-catching backs, so we’ll see a lot of Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead (and maybe some Brandon Bolden) this evening. Gillislee saw less and less playing time in each of the last three weeks, so it’s not a total surprise that he’s a healthy scratch tonight.
Defensive end Cassius Marsh is also inactive, while newcomer Ricky Jean Francois (signed Tuesday) will make his Patriots debut. Marsh has had an up-and-down season, but he’s played a ton of snaps so it’ll be interesting to see who takes over at the edge.
Cornerback Eric Rowe is inactive, but Stephon Gilmore looks to be ready to make his return to the secondary after missing the last three games.
Pregame — 6:45 p.m.: The 6-2 Patriots look to extend their four-game win streak as they come out of their bye and hit a tough stretch on their schedule. The Patriots will play five of their next six games on the road, starting Sunday night against the Broncos in Denver.
Tom Brady is just 3-7 record in Denver, his worst road win percentage against any team that he’s faced more than once. The Broncos may be losers of four straight, but their defense is still one of the best in the NFL and one that always seems to give Brady issues. The offensive line will have their hands full with Von Miller, who has eight of Denver’s 19 sacks on the season, especially with Marcus Cannon out. That means LaAdrian Waddle will be called upon to handle Miller, which is no easy task.
Brady will also be down a reliable target in Chris Hogan, who is out with a shoulder injury. That leaves just Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Phillip Dorsett on the depth chart at receiver, and Dorsett will need to step things up as the new No. 3 receiver. He hasn’t caught a pass since Week 4, but could find himself a big part of the New England offense this evening.
Martellus Bennett, who returned to the Patriots just a few days ago, will reportedly play tonight. We’ll know for sure in a few minutes when the inactives come out. If he is active, it’ll be interesting to see how involved he is in the offense, given he’s dealing with a torn rotator cuff that caused quite a bit of drama in Green Bay this week. Bennett knows the system, so it shouldn’t take him long to get re-acclimated if he hits the field.
After the game, you can see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s postgame press conferences live on Patriots 5th Quarter on WBZ-TV, and you can catch three hours of postgame coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub.