Patriots 20

(3-4, 1-3 away)

Broncos 31

(4-3, 3-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, October 28, 2001


1 2 3 4 T
NE 10 7 3 020
DEN 7 3 14 731

Denver takes advantage of four fourth-quarter INTs

DENVER (AP) -- After 162 career passes without an interception, Tom Brady sure fell apart in a hurry.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady getting the call against the Rams.

Brady, a model of accuracy in four previous starts, threw four fourth-quarter interceptions and the Denver Broncos took advantage in a 31-20 victory Sunday over the New England Patriots.

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 since 1984.

"Their defensive backs are like receivers out there," Brady said. "If you throw it their way, they're probably going to catch it."

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 minutes.

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. 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 outside.

"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 zone.

"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 Warner football.

With 2:25 left in the half, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi intercepted a pass that was tipped by teammate Matt Stevens but then fumbled without being touched during the return.

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 personal foul.

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.

Game notes
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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 65 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 31 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 65 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 31 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 3 plays, 32 yds, 0:36
Drive info: 3 plays, 32 yds, 0:36
neFG11:15Adam Vinatieri 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, -2 yds, 1:43
Drive info: 4 plays, 69 yds, 1:59
Drive info: 4 plays, 69 yds, 1:59
denTD1:06Mike Anderson, 8 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 3:45
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 3:45
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 2:15
neFG9:22Adam Vinatieri 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 74 yds, 5:29
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 2:15
denFG4:12Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 17 plays, 66 yds, 8:31