Final

Patriots 20

(3-3, 2-2 away)

Broncos 28

(5-1, 4-0 home)

4:15 PM ET, October 16, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 3 0 3 1420
DEN 0 21 7 028

Top Performers

Passing: T. Brady (NE) - 299 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: T. Bell (DEN) - 13 CAR, 114 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Smith (DEN) - 6 REC, 123 YDS, 1 TD

Broncos almost blow 25-point lead but hold on

DENVER (AP) -- Jake Plummer did more than merely manage the game, he controlled it. He made big plays when they were there, avoided mistakes and made the New England Patriots look more like a team in disarray than the NFL's reigning dynasty.

It was over when ...
The Pats found themselves down by 25. Although they rallied, there would be no late heroics for the Brady Bunch this time, as Tom Terrific threw three incompletions when New England had a chance to tie it late.
Game ball goes to ...
Jake Plummer, who finished with 262 yards and two TDs and extended his streak without an interception to 17 quarters in a dominating performance.
ESPN's take ...
Eric Allen The Broncos have really taken steps every game, except for the first game, to put a statement on every win. They brought good defensive players from the Browns, have a settled running game and Plummer is comfortable in the third season of this new offense. They are confident and mature when running the ball and Mike Anderson is doing a great job behind the line. This is the type of football the Broncos have wanted to play the past few seasons. Defensively, this team is playing well and getting a good rush out of the defensive frontline.
-- Eric Allen

Plummer hit on throws of 72 and 55 yards to help the Denver Broncos to a 28-20 victory over the two-time defending champions Sunday, the first time he showed his explosive capability this season.

"We knew we were going to get a couple of shots," Plummer said. "They panned out like that."

Tatum Bell had a 68-yard run and finished with 114 yards to surpass the century mark for the second straight week as the Broncos (5-1) jumped ahead by 25 early in the third quarter en route to their fifth straight win.

Plummer finished with 262 yards and two touchdowns and extended his streak without an interception to 17 quarters. Over the previous three games, the errorless ball came seemingly at the expense of the big play -- Plummer didn't crack 150 yards in any of those games -- but this time, the Broncos got both.

"He's definitely been playing a lot smarter," said receiver Ashley Lelie, who caught the 55-yard pass. "He's not trying to make every single play. It's a credit to him understanding and accepting his role on the team. He puts up wins for us when he plays smart like that."

Trailing by 25, Tom Brady picked on the young Denver secondary -- missing the injured Champ Bailey for most of the second half -- to pull the Patriots within 28-20 late.

New England had a chance to tie, but Brady threw three straight incompletions, and the Denver offense ran the final 3½ minutes off the clock after a punt.

Brady went 24-for-46 for 299 yards and a touchdown in a comeback effort fitting of the two-time Super Bowl MVP.

"We pride ourselves on playing smart and playing physical, I just think the execution wasn't there," Brady said. "When we were down 28-3, we started to figure it out a little bit."

New England (3-3) got into the big hole courtesy of Plummer.

After completing only one pass of 30 yards or longer this season, Jake the Snake added two more in the second quarter. He hit Rod Smith for 72 yards and Lelie for 55, getting ample time to set up and then finding both receivers streaking down the middle of the field in single coverage.

The two long passes and Bell's big run all set up touchdowns that gave the Broncos a 21-3 lead before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Patriots unraveled. The ugliness reached its crescendo on the last play of the first half when Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins was ejected for taking a cheap shot on Ebenezer Ekuban, hitting him below the belt after Adam Vinatieri missed a 53-yard field-goal attempt.

"It was a cheap shot," Ekuban said. "Hopefully, the NFL will fine him heavily."

The banged-up Patriots listed about half their roster on the injury report this week. Most notable was an ankle injury to Corey Dillon, who dressed but didn't play. And really, the way the first three quarters of this game went, it was hard to think he would have made a difference.

The Patriots were outplayed in almost every phase, and their two fourth-quarter touchdowns prevented them from losing by double digits for the third time this year.

"We didn't give up 70-yard plays," was how coach Bill Belichick described the team's improvement in the third quarter.

In the first half, the New England defense focused on stopping the running game and got torched by Plummer. He went 17-for-24 and finished with a passer rating of 134.4.

He wasn't good only on the long balls. Two plays after Bell's long run, Plummer rolled out to his right and threaded a pass to Kyle Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 21-3 lead.

Then, Plummer completed passes of 13, 21 and 7 yards to guide the Broncos 79 yards for another TD on the first drive of the third quarter to put them ahead by 25.

It may have been Plummer's finest, steadiest effort in his three years in Denver

"I can't say it's any one thing," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's in his third year. He feels comfortable with the system. I think it's a process and hopefully, he can keep it up."

Game notes


Bailey left early in the third quarter when the sore left hamstring that kept him out of the last two games flared up. ... The Patriots fell to 22-3 against teams with records above .500 since the beginning of the 2003 season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
New England
Denver
1st Downs2220
3rd down efficiency
6-163-11
4th down efficiency
0-00-0
Total Yards388432
Yards per play6.07.3
Total Drives23
Passing299254
Comp-Att
24-4617-24
Yards per pass
6.510.6
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-01-8
Rushing89178
Rushing Attempts
1934
Yards per rush
4.75.2
Penalties8-5511-82
Turnovers00
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
00
Possession27:4332:17

Passing Leaders

NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brady24/462996.5100-0
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Plummer17/2426210.9201-8

Rushing Leaders

NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Pass10646.4117
Zereoue7142.0012
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bell131148.8168
Anderson15573.8110

Receiving Leaders

NERECYDSAVGTDLG
Pass68914.8039
Branch78712.4019
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith612320.5172
Lelie38127.0055

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNEDEN
FG9:23Adam Vinatieri 39 Yd
Drive: 5 plays, 22 yds, 2:35
30
SECOND QUARTERNEDEN
TD2:24Tatum Bell 3 Yd Run (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 6 plays, 97 yds, 3:14
37
TD7:08Rod Smith 6 Yd Pass From Jake Plummer (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 91 yds, 2:44
314
TD14:12Kyle Johnson 1 Yd Pass From Jake Plummer (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 4 plays, 80 yds, 1:45
321
THIRD QUARTERNEDEN
TD4:24Mike Anderson 2 Yd Run (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 9 plays, 74 yds, 4:24
328
FG9:07Adam Vinatieri 38 Yd
Drive: 7 plays, 53 yds, 2:21
628
FOURTH QUARTERNEDEN
TD0:04Patrick Pass 8 Yd Run (Adam Vinatieri Kick)
Drive: 9 plays, 73 yds, 3:47
1328
TD6:59David Givens 8 Yd Pass From Tom Brady (Adam Vinatieri Kick)
Drive: 7 plays, 71 yds, 3:02
2028