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Patriots, Brady Hold on to Beat Manning, Broncos 31-21

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The Patriots held on for a 31-21 win against the Broncos, despite a late Peyton Manning rally.

Jim Rogash - Getty Images

With a 31-7 Patriots lead in the third quarter, the casual fan may have thought tonight's Patriots vs. Broncos game was all but over. However, Patriots fans know better, as Peyton Manning and the Broncos were able to make tonight's game interesting late.

The Patriots were extremely efficient on offense all day, and really had the no huddle going strong. Tom Brady was 23 for 31 in the air, connecting with Wes Welker 12 times. Welker was a third down machine, and also picked up a first quarter touchdown. On the ground, the Patriots were led by Stevan Ridley, who picked up 151 yards on 28 carries, and also had a touchdown. Overall, the Patriots picked up a team record 35 first downs, 18 of which came on the ground.

Of course, there were things that the Patriots failed to do well. Pass protection was a bit inconsistent, as Broncos linebacker Von Miller was unstoppable as both a pass rusher and run stopper. The team also struggled to put the Manning-led Broncos away, and were helped out by a pair of fourth quarter goofs from Willis McGahee.

Peyton Manning shredded the Patriots pass defense, and while there was some strong individual play, you can't help but wonder what Manning could have done had the Patriots not controlled the ball so well on offense.

Overall, a solid win for the Patriots that puts them at 3-2 and atop the AFC East. There are certainly some things that will leave the Patriots dissatisfied, and hopefully that will keep the team motivated for next week's road battle at Seattle.