DENVER (AP) -- After 162 career passes without an interception,
Tom Brady sure fell apart in a hurry.
Denard Walker and Deltha O'Neal each had two interceptions, and
Rod Smith had six catches for 159 yards and a touchdown to help the
Broncos (4-3) beat New England (3-4) for the 12th time in 14 games
"Their defensive backs are like receivers out there," Brady
said. "If you throw it their way, they're probably going to catch
Brady, a second-year player filling in for the injured Drew
Bledsoe, had the best interception-free streak to start an NFL
career, but he threw four in 10 attempts in the game's final 15
Walker started the turnover trend when he intercepted a pass in
the back of the end zone to protect a 24-20 lead, and O'Neal made a
diving grab five minutes later. Walker provided the clinching score
when he returned an interception 39 yards with 2:24 remaining.
Did the Tom Brady bandwagon lose a wheel?
The three interceptions really hurt. Brady threw the ball well for the Patriots, but he made some poor decisions.
This kind of game was bound to happen for Brady. When you have a first-time starter, there will be bumps along the way. Give credit to the Broncos. Denver played well defensively and confused Brady with different coverages and some good pressure.
ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.
On the play, New England receiver Troy Brown ran his pattern to
the inside, and Brady threw the ball directly to Walker on the
"I screwed it up," Brown said. "I wasn't on the same page
with him. He was expecting me to do one thing and I thought that I
should do something else."
New England's mistakes allowed the Broncos to survive their own
untimely penalties and turnovers, which hurt them in losses over
the last two weeks.
Denver quarterback Brian Griese threw two interceptions, but he
also had touchdown passes to Smith and Dwayne Carswell that helped
the Broncos overcome a 10-point deficit in the third quarter.
Griese finished 19-of-30 for 283 yards.
"The past three weeks, we've made a bunch of mistakes and we
haven't played a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination,"
Griese said. "What's encouraging is that we will continue to
strive for that perfect game."
Smith, the NFL's leading receiver, scored on a 65-yard catch to
pull Denver to 20-17 with 10:35 left in the third quarter, and the
Broncos took their first lead in three weeks when Griese found
Carswell all alone for a 6-yard score seven minutes later.
"The 65-yard touchdown by Rod Smith was one of several turning
points," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "We needed a shot in
the arm, and that provided it."
New England threatened to take the lead early in the fourth
quarter when two Denver penalties helped it drive to the 8. The
Patriots came away empty when Walker intercepted a pass in the end
"We needed one good drive to get into the end zone in the
fourth quarter, but we just weren't able to do it," coach Bill
Belichick said. "Denver deserved to win, but I think we know we
can beat them."
Denver erased an early 10-0 deficit on Mike Anderson's 8-yard
touchdown run and a 50-yard field goal by Jason Elam. New England
regained the lead following a strange play straight out of Pop
The ball bounced directly into Griese's arms but squirted free
when he hit the ground. Stevens recovered at the Denver 32 and the
Patriots started the drive at the 17 after Griese was flagged for a
Brady, who was Griese's backup at Michigan in 1997, threw a
5-yard TD pass to Brown four plays later. Brown finished with nine
catches for 86 yards.
O'Neal and Walker made sure the stats came in a lost cause.
"Their two receivers have been the ones carrying this football
team, and coach Shanahan pointed out that our corners were going to
have to step up," Walker said.
Broncos RB Terrell Davis missed his sixth game since
arthroscopic knee surgery. ... New England LB Bryan Cox (right leg)
and OL Matt Light (right shoulder) left the field after being
injured in the third quarter. ... Brady's four interceptions were
the most by a New England QB since Bledsoe threw four at
Philadelphia on Dec. 19, 1999. ... Patriots WR David Patten, who
threw a 61-yard TD pass last week, was intercepted trying to hit
Charles Johnson in the second quarter. ... Smith set a Denver
record with his 25th career 100-yard game.