Patriots vs. Broncos Final Score: What a Comeback! Pats Win 34-31

Jim Rogash

The New England Patriots have pulled off one of the most memorable comebacks in team and league history, defeating the Denver Broncos 34-31 in overtime after trailing 24-0 at halftime.

The New England Patriots have pulled off one of the most memorable comebacks in team and league history, defeating the Denver Broncos 34-31 in overtime after trailing 24-0 at halftime.

If you were a Patriots fan, it was the type of game that would make you cringe in the first half.  The Patriots opened the game by having three straight drives with a lost fumble.  The first was from Stevan Ridley - it was recovered by Von Miller for the second.  The second was a Tom Brady strip-sack, recovered inside the ten and quickly converted for seven points.  The third was a mishandle by LaGarrette Blount, recovered inside Patriot territory and quickly converted into three points for Denver.

Before you knew it, it was halftime, and the Patriots were trailing 24-0.  It would be tough to recall a time they had looked so flat in the first half.  It was reminiscent of the Ravens playoff game from 2009 or the 49ers game from 2012.  A comeback looked improbable considering due to the strong wind.

But the comeback did happen.  The Patriots opened the second half crisp and with a renewed step.  They drove straight down the field and scored a touchdown on a Brady to Edelman throw.  Then, Dane Fletcher forced a fumble on Montee Ball and the Patriots converted a short field into six points on a Brandon Bolden one yard score.  The trio of third quarter touchdowns was capped with a short Brady to Rob Gronkowski throw.

Shortly after the fourth quarter began, the Patriots would take the lead.  Logan Ryan intercepted an underthrown Peyton Manning pass and Brady found Edelman for a second time just two plays later for a touchdown and a 28-24 lead.

The Patriots would then tack on a field goal before surrendering a long touchdown drive to the Broncos.  Neither team could capitalize on a couple of late drives, and the game went to overtime.

Upon winning the coin toss, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made a curious decision: he deferred the ball to the Broncos and chose to take the win.

The decision would pay off, as the Broncos got into Patriots territory twice in overtime, but had to punt both times because of the difficulty of kicking into the wind.

Although the Patriots couldn't muster much in overtime, they were fortunate to have a Logan Ryan punt bounce off the leg of Broncos' cornerback Tony Carter.  The Patriots took over at the 14, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game winning field goal two plays later.

It was an amazing comeback by Tom Brady, who outplayed Peyton Manning in what will be without a doubt one of the most memorable games of their rivalry.  The Patriots were able to produce some good pressure on Peyton Manning, and it clearly rattled him.  Of course, Manning didn't throw as much as usual, as the Patriots simply got shredded by Knowshon Moreno and the Broncos running attack.  On the majority of snaps, they were simply out-played and pushed off their spots by the Broncos' offensive line.  It was a cause for serious concern.  But fortunately, the Patriots were able to make opportunistic plays in the second half defensively, and limit Peyton Manning more than any team has this season.

The game was far from perfect for the Patriots, but the second half was nothing short of awesome.  There will be lots to discuss and analyze in the coming days.  For now, the Patriots will enjoy the win, as they move to 8-3 and continue to control their own destiny for a first round bye in the AFC.

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