Final

Broncos 17

(2-1, 1-1 away)

Patriots 7

(2-1, 1-1 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:15 PM ET, September 24, 2006

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 10 0 717
NE 0 0 0 77

Top Performers

Passing: T. Brady (NE) - 320 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: T. Bell (DEN) - 27 CAR, 123 YDS

Receiving: J. Walker (DEN) - 3 REC, 130 YDS, 2 TD

Broncos' stout defense shuts down Brady, Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Jake Plummer and Javon Walker gave the Broncos enough offense to keep the finicky Denver fans at bay -- for another week, at least.

The Broncos' defense did the rest.

It was over when ...
Wide receiver Javon Walker, who had three catches for 130 yards, scored his second touchdown of the game on an 83-yard reception early in the fourth quarter, giving the Broncos a 17-0 lead.
Game ball goes to ...
Denver's defense, which finally allowed its first touchdown of the season with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Broncos did allow 320 yards passing, but much of that came after the outcome had been decided.
Scouts Inc.'s take ...
For the third straight week, Tom Brady was not Tom Brady, and it finally caught up to the Patriots. He didn't his rhythm until late in the game, but at that point it was too late. You have to give Denver's defense a lot of credit. Champ Bailey continues to prove his worth as the best pure cornerback in the NFL. His ability to take away half of the field allowed Denver to put eight men in the box and focus on stopping Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney.

Denver's offense and QB Jake Plummer finally showed up. That should not come as a surprise, because Plummer started slowly last season and it was this same Patriots team that got him jump-started. Mike Shanahan took off the handcuffs this week, and Plummer responded with a solid performance. Walker had a big game, and he seems settled into Denver's offensive system. Plummer was able to hit him in stride on a few occasions, which really exposed the Patriots' poor-tackling secondary for the second week in a row.

Plummer, the quick target of Denver boo-birds after two bad performances, threw touchdown passes of 83 and 32 yards to Walker on Sunday night as the Broncos beat The New England Patriots 17-7. They were Plummer's first two TD passes of the season, and just the second and third touchdowns Denver has scored.

"There was no difference, just go out and play," Plummer said. "We had a good game plan ... it just happened to work this week."

But the credit goes as much to a Denver defense that shut down Tom Brady and a Patriots offense that was without several of its few options -- rookie receiver Chad Jackson, the team's only deep threat, was out with a hamstring problem and running back Corey Dillon left in the first half with an arm injury.

Even when Dillon was in the game, New England's offense was rendered ineffective by a defense that finally surrendered its first touchdown of the season with just over nine minutes left. That came on an 8-yard pass from Brady to Doug Gabriel at the end of an 80-yard, 10-play drive after the Broncos had opened up a 17-0 lead.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan said the key was shutting down the run -- the Patriots gained just 50 yards on the ground.

"We felt like if we could do that, we could just react to the pass," he said.

Walker said: "I look at the defense. When guys are making plays, they make it contagious."

As good as Denver was, the Patriots said they were as much at fault for their first loss of the season.

"It comes down to execution and consistency and we didn't have it tonight," Patriots center Dan Koppen said. "They played well and we didn't."

The win was the fifth for the Broncos (2-1) in their last six games with the Patriots (2-1), including a 27-13 playoff win in Denver last season.

The offense did its share, too.

Pinned three times inside its own 5 by Josh Miller punts, Denver consistently moved the ball far enough to give Paul Ernster room to kick it back out of danger. That was largely the work of Tatum Bell, who gained 123 yards on 27 carries -- and the efficiency of Plummer, who hit two third-down passes in the first half to move the ball out of danger.

Perhaps more importantly, he didn't make the mistakes he is sometimes prone to making.

Plummer, who entered the game with no TD passes, four interceptions and a dismal passer rating of 38.6, finally threw his first TD pass of the season with 56 seconds left in the half, less than three minutes after rookie Stephen Gostkowski's 37-yard field-goal attempt for New England was blocked by Dominique Foxworth. It was the second straight blocked kick by Gostkowski, who had one stuffed by the Jets last week.

Denver's drive was highlighted by a 19-yard run by Bell on the first play after the blocked kick. On third-and-1 from the New England 32, Plummer hit Walker perfectly in the corner of the end zone for the receiver's first TD as a Bronco.

The second TD was a strike over the middle to Walker, who was obtained in a draft-day trade from Green Bay to give the Broncos a big-play receiver. He eluded Asante Samuel and James Sanders and ran almost untouched to the end zone.

"We took it upon ourselves for everyone to be liable for their mistakes, step up when it's time to step up," Walker said. "You know, just listen to the game plan and come out here and make plays."

Plummer was 15-of-30 for 256 yards, the kind of percentage that had Broncos fans calling for Jay Cutler, Denver's first pick in April's draft. But that 50 percent was much better than his 50 percent work in his first two efforts.

"Jake really managed the game well," said Shanahan, who last week said he had no intention of benching his QB. "He made a couple of big plays, a couple of big throws at opportune times."

Brady, hampered by a running game that produced just 50 yards, was 31-of-55 for 320 yards, much of it late against a prevent defense.

Game notes


The 83-yard TD pass was the ninth longest in Broncos history. ... Denver center Tom Nalen, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who grew up in Foxborough and played at Boston College, was called for two holding penalties. ... One of New England's best chances to get back in the game was nullified in the third quarter on a play on which three penalties were called -- two on Denver -- after Kevin Faulk returned a punt to the Broncos 36. After the re-kick, the Patriots started at their own 40, a 24-yard loss.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPNBoston.com 

Team Stat Comparison

 
Denver
New England
1st Downs1922
3rd down efficiency
7-164-16
4th down efficiency
0-01-3
Total Yards400370
Yards per play6.34.9
Total Drives11
Passing256320
Comp-Att
15-3031-55
Yards per pass
8.55.8
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-00-0
Rushing14450
Rushing Attempts
3421
Yards per rush
4.22.4
Penalties7-526-78
Turnovers00
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
00
Possession31:4528:15

Passing Leaders

DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Plummer15/302568.5200-0
NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brady31/553205.8100-0

Rushing Leaders

DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bell271234.6021
Bell4123.007
NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Maroney12181.505
Dillon5163.2010

Receiving Leaders

DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Walker313043.3283
Smith6447.3011
NERECYDSAVGTDLG
Gabriel66510.8118
Maroney56112.2031

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERDENNE
FG7:35Jason Elam 27 Yd
Drive: 11 plays, 59 yds, 4:38
30
TD14:10Javon Walker 32 Yd Pass From Jake Plummer (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 7 plays, 73 yds, 2:47
100
FOURTH QUARTERDENNE
TD1:57Javon Walker 83 Yd Pass From Jake Plummer (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 97 yds, 2:51
170
TD5:47Doug Gabriel 8 Yd Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick)
Drive: 10 plays, 80 yds, 3:50
177