Patriots at Broncos Review
January 15th, 2006 - Page updated at 8:30am
Analyst For WagerOnFootball.com
GAME BY GAME SUMMARIES - DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
patriots at broncos REVIEW
Score: denver 27 - new england 13
- Mike Anderson scored a pair
of touchdowns and Denver converted five New England
turnovers into 24 points, as the Broncos defeated
the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots,
27-13, at Invesco Field in the divisional round of
the AFC playoffs.
Jake Plummer finished 15-of-26 for
197 yards with one touchdown and one interception
for the Broncos, who will play either Indianapolis
or Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday.
Rod Smith added 96 receiving yards and a score for
Denver, which won a postseason game for the first
time since capturing consecutive Super Bowl titles
in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Champ Bailey returned an interception
100 yards to set up Anderson's second TD, turning
a four-point lead into an 11-point advantage, as the
Broncos beat New England for the second time this
season. Back in Week 6, Denver defeated New England,
28-20, also at home. Anderson tallied 69 yards on
Tom Brady ended 20-of-36 for 341 yards
with one touchdown and two interceptions for the Patriots,
who had a 10-game postseason winning streak come to
a halt. Deion Branch added 153 yards on eight receptions
for New England, which last suffered a playoff loss
to Jacksonville on January 3, 1999.
"It's just unfortunate that it
was our best players making some of the big mistakes,"
said Brady. "It was disappointing at the end
of the game when you look up at the scoreboard and
realize how many points we left on the field and can't
make up for it."
New England outgained Denver 420-286
in total offense, but the five miscues were very costly.
The most devastating turnover was the first of the
Trailing 10-6 late in the third quarter,
the Patriots were driving and were in position to
take the lead or at least cut their deficit to just
On a 3rd-and-5 from the Denver five-yard
line, Brady was flushed out of the pocket and attempted
an off-balance pass to Troy Brown in the end zone.
However, Bailey stepped in front of Brown, picked
off the pass and ran up the sideline to the New England
The only reason why Bailey didn't score
was a tremendous effort by Patriots tight end Ben
Watson, who hustled nearly 100 yards to chase down
Bailey and force him to fumble the ball out of bounds.
The play was reviewed to see if the fumble went through
the end zone for a touchback for the Patriots, but
the call stood.
"I was afraid that it went out
of the end zone, but I really wasn't sure," said
Bailey. "All I knew was that he got me right
before I got to the pylon, so I was hoping the ball
didn't cross the goal line."
One play later, Anderson ran around
the left end for a 17-6 Broncos' lead with just 43
seconds left in the stanza.
The interception was the first thrown
by Brady in the playoffs since the third quarter of
Super Bowl XXXVIII.
New England refused to go away quietly
and drove down the field on its next possession. Although,
this time Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard field goal
that would have made it an eight-point game.
The Patriots defense then stopped Denver,
forcing a punt with just over 10 minutes remaining
in the contest. But another turnover, the fourth of
the game for New England, again led to seven points
for the Broncos.
This time, Brown fumbled the punt and
Denver recovered at the New England 15, leading to
Plummer's eventual four-yard TD pass to Smith for
a 24-6 cushion with 8:38 left in the contest.
Brady, however, needed just two plays
to make it an 11-point contest. On the first play
after the kickoff, Brady hit Branch for a 73-yard
pass play, bringing the ball down to the Denver 4.
Then, the QB hit David Givens in the back of the end
zone on the next play with 8:05 on the clock.
Denver, though, secured the win on
its drive, taking nearly five minutes off the clock
and ending the eight-play, 61-yard march with a 34-yard
Jason Elam field goal for a 14-point cushion.
The Broncos had dropped three playoff
games since winning Super Bowl XXXIII and it was their
first postseason win without legendary quarterback
"It's always nice to win against
a team that you know you're going against the best,
from a coaching standpoint, offense, defense and special
teams," said Denver head coach Mike Shanahan.
"I have the utmost respect for what they've done,
and we really feel fortunate to come away with a win
against a team that has played at that level consistently
for a number of years."
New England took advantage of the first
turnover of the game. After an Asante Samuel interception
of Plummer gave the Patriots the ball at their own
30-yard line midway through the second quarter, Brady
marched his troops down to the Denver 22 for a 40-yard
field goal by Vinatieri.
The Broncos later took advantage of
the Patriots first turnover of the game and a questionable
call by an official to get their first points.
Kevin Faulk coughed up the ball at
the New England 36, giving Denver great field position
with just 1:51 left in the half. On the first play,
Plummer went deep for Ashlie Lelie in the end zone.
The play appeared to be covered legally by Samuel,
but the back judge saw it differently and flagged
him for pass interference.
The penalty moved the ball to the one-yard
line, where it took Anderson just one try to pound
it home for a 7-3 edge with 1:42 remaining.
"It was the side judge's call,"
said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. "No,
[side judge] didn't [make the call]."
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Broncos
kicker Todd Sauerbrun forced returner Ellis Hobbs
to fumble the ball and Denver recovered at the Patriots'
Three plays later Elam connected on
a 50-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining until
halftime to give the Broncos a 10-3 lead after 30
minutes of action.
New England cut the deficit to 10-6
on its first possession of the second half, as Vinatieri
nailed a 32-yarder to cap an 11-play, 58-yard drive
with 7:11 elapsed in the quarter.
This was just the second postseason
loss for Belichick (11-2) and first setback for Brady
These two teams combined to win
five of the last eight Super Bowls...This was the
Broncos' first playoff game at Invesco Field...Denver
improved to 12-2 all-time at home in the postseason...Shanahan
passed Dan Reeves for the franchise record with eight
playoff wins...After having 4 1/2 sacks in the Wild
Card round against Jacksonville, New England linebacker
Willie McGinest was held without a sack...Patriots
LB Tedy Bruschi returned to the lineup after missing
the previous two games with a calf injury...Givens
ended with 54 yards receiving...Lelie had 50 yards
on five catches...Corey Dillon finished with 57 yards
on 13 carries for the Pats...Elam became the franchise's
all-time postseason scoring leader, ending the game
with 79 playoff points. Terrell Davis held the previous
record with 74 points.
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