FOXBORO (CBS) — After getting an impromptu bye week, the New England Patriots finally returned to game action on Sunday. It did not go according to plan.

The New England offense struggled to generate much of anything at all until the fourth quarter, and the defense gave up too many big plays. On the other side, the Denver Broncos played like a team that was unwilling to leave New England without a victory.

And though the Patriots made a remarkable late push to make things interesting, Denver came away with that victory, with an 18-12 final score.

With the loss, the Patriots drop to 2-3, while the Broncos improve to 2-3.

Newton completed 17 of his 25 passes for 157 yards with no touchdowns and two picks, while rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Drew Lock was 10-for-24 for 189 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Broncos opened the game with a scoring drive, thanks to a 41-yard connection from Lock to Tim Patrick up the right sideline. Brandon McManus booted a 45-yard field goal to give Denver a 3-0 lead just 1:58 into the game.

The Broncos doubled that lead minutes later when defensive lineman DeShawn Williams made a diving interception on a tipped screen pass from Newton. The Broncos only moved the ball eight yards before settling for a field goal, with McManus drilling a 44-yarder to put Denver ahead 6-0 with 8:05 left in the first quarter.

The second quarter opened with another Broncos scoring drive, this one going 83 yards on 13 plays but stalling in the red zone. Lock threw incomplete on second and third down from the Patriots’ 8-yard line, and McManus came on for a 27-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 9-0.

The Patriots finally go on the board with a 12-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 41-yard field goal from Nick Folk. A 16-yard connection from Newton to Isaiah Zuber was the biggest play of the drive, which essentially stalled after a wild shotgun snap from Joe Thuney resulted in a 15-yard loss on a first-and-10 in the red zone.

Just before halftime, the Broncos stretched it back to a nine-point lead with a 52-yard field goal by McManus. That came after John Simon sacked Lock for a loss of 13 yards, turning a potential Denver touchdown drive into a long field goal try. The Broncos marched 48 yards on 12 plays on that drive, taking a 12-3 lead into halftime.

The Patriots went three-and-out to start the second half, before the Broncos went on another long scoring drive. This one went 79 yards on 15 plays, but the Patriots’ defense stiffened to stop the Broncos from reaching the end zone after a Stephon Gilmore defensive holding penalty gave Denver a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. A short McManus kick made it 15-3 for Denver with 3:32 left in the third.

A Ryan Izzo fumble ended a potential scoring drive for New England in the third quarter, and Denver turned it into another field goal drive, with McManus hitting a 54-yarder to give Denver an 18-3 lead.

On the ensuing possession, a Newton pass was tipped and then picked off by Bryce Callahan, giving the Broncos possession at the New England 39-yard line. For the first time all game, though, the Broncos did not score, with the Patriots’ defense forcing a three-and-out.

The Patriots finally got into the end zone when Newton reached across the goal line on a QB keeper with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter. The Patriots got into the red zone after Newton broke off a 38-yard scramble one play after connecting with Damiere Byrd for 19 yards.

Newton rushed up the middle for a gain of six on a second-and-goal from the 7-yard line before scoring on the sneak. Officials initially ruled that Newton was done before crossing the goal line, but a Bill Belichick challenge turned it into a touchdown.

On the two-point conversion attempt, Newton looked to throw before tucking and running, but he was stopped well short of the goal line, keeping the Broncos’ lead at 19-8 with 8:31 left to play.

Things got interesting on the next drive, when Lock threw an interception directly to J.C. Jackson on a miscommunication with Patrick up the left sideline.

Newton took a sack and threw a screen to Julian Edelman for a loss of a yard before scrambling for another 12 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal attempt for Nick Folk. The kick was good, and just like that, the Patriots trailed by just five points with 3:23 left to play.

Lock then threw another interception, this one on an ill-advised deep shot to Patrick again. Jonathan Jones made the pick at the New England 28-yard line, giving the Patriots a shot at a game-winning touchdown drive.

The ensuing drive featured not one but two passes by Julian Edelman. The first one went to James White for a 22-yard gain, and the second one went back to Newton, who caught the ball and shook a tackle for a 16-yard gain that got the ball to the Denver 24-yard line.

Facing a fourth-and-10 at the Denver 24-yard line, Newton threw incomplete to Harry. The incompletion came with just 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter, essentially ending the game.

The game was being played in Week 6 after originally being scheduled for Week 5. That game was pushed back a day before ultimately shifting to Week 6, as the Patriots dealt with a number of positive COVID-19 cases. The Broncos did not have any positive tests until Saturday, when Broncos running back coach Curtis Modkins tested positive.

The Patriots will host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Comments
  1. Frank DeLorey says:

    Miss Tom yet? He was busy in TB doing what a real GOAT does lighting up the undefeated Green Bay…well they were undefeated…LOL

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