The Patriots lost the opening coin toss and opened up the game with a quick three-and-out, thanks to two ineffective runs up the gut to start. Ryan Allen sent a booming punt down the field and gunner Jonathan Jones forced the Broncos returnman to muff the kick and Jacob Hollister recovered. Two plays later, Tom Brady found Rex Burkhead for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Broncos responded with a 8-play, 58 yard drive that ended at the Patriots 21-yard line as New England stiffened up and forced a field goal. Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler picked on Malcolm Butler the entire first half, connecting with Emmanuel Sanders for 5 catches and 114 yards. Demaryius Thomas has been erased by Stephon Gilmore with 2 catches for 11 yards as the Broncos second-most productive receiver.
Dion Lewis returned the Broncos kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 14-3 lead.
Denver responded with another 8-play drive, this time for 64 yards to the Patriots 15-yard line, but New England tightened up and forced another field goal.
The Patriots got the ball back and Tom Brady led a brutal 14-play, 68 yard drive that drained 6:40 off the clock, but New England stalled at the 7-yard line and were unable to punch it in for a score. Stephen Gostkowski hit the field goal for a 17-6 lead.
The Broncos led a 5-play, 10 yard drive that ended with a blocked punt by Rex Burkhead, who is having himself a terrific game. Brady led the Patriots 20 yards on 5 plays, but the offense again stalled at the 10-yard line and Gostkowski hit another field goal inside the red zone for a 20-6 lead; the Patriots red zone struggles have continued.
Denver needed a big drive and they actually led a 12-play, 63 yard drive, but the Patriots defense again stopped the Broncos at the 18-yard line; Denver settled for another field goal attempt and a 20-9 deficit.
Brady and the offense had one last chance for a score, getting the ball with 2:36 left on the clock and one time out, and the Patriots marched 75 yards in 9 plays with Dwayne Allen catching the touchdown for a 27-9 lead. DWAYNE ALLEN. It’s that type of game.
The Broncos offense haven’t had a problem moving the ball, with three of their four drives of the first half getting to the 21-, 15-, and 18-yard lines of the Patriots, but New England’s defense has done a good job defending almost every potential Broncos receiver to force a stop and field goal attempt.
I say almost because Emmanuel Sanders is having a dominant game with Malcolm Butler not having much success. It’s not like Butler’s been bad, either, but he’s a hair behind where he needs to be and Sanders is being transcendent. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson has been running well with 8 carries for 48 yards, too, but the Patriots lead might prevent Denver from running the ball in the second half.
The Broncos get the ball after the half.