Final

Broncos 21

(2-3, 0-2 away)

Patriots 31

(3-2, 1-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:25 PM ET, October 7, 2012

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 7 7 721
NE 7 10 14 031

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 337 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: S. Ridley (NE) - 28 CAR, 151 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Thomas (DEN) - 9 REC, 180 YDS

Stevan Ridley rushes for 151 yards as Pats outlast Broncos

Associated Press
Sunday Blitz: Broncos-Patriots Recap
Jim Basquil and Eric Allen break down the Patriots' 31-21 win over the Broncos
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The familiar showdown had a new twist -- Peyton Manning in a Denver Broncos uniform. It ended as it usually does with Tom Brady winning the matchup of marquee quarterbacks.

But not before Manning nearly pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback in a career filled with them.

In their 13th meeting, and first since Manning left the Indianapolis Colts, Brady directed four scoring marches of at least 80 yards, and the Patriots won 31-21 on Sunday. He's 9-4 in his career against Manning.

"Nobody I'd rather have than Tom Brady," New England coach Bill Belichick said, "but Manning's a great player."

Manning had led his teams back in the fourth quarter to 36 comeback wins. And the Broncos (2-3) rallied from a 31-7 deficit with about five minutes left in the third quarter on Manning's scoring passes of 2 yards to Eric Decker and 5 yards to Brandon Stokley.

The Patriots (3-2) lost the ball on Stevan Ridley's fumble on their next possession, and Manning completed a 28-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas to the Patriots 14-yard line. But two plays later, Denver's comeback hopes faded when Willis McGahee fumbled and Jermaine Cunningham recovered at the New England 11 with 3:42 remaining.

"We can build on that" ability to whittle a big deficit, Manning said. "I do think that will help us win a game at some point."

Brady downplayed his meeting with Manning.

"It's Patriots-Broncos," he said. "It was a great team win. We got some turnovers from our defense and I thought offensively capitalized at times. There were a few lulls in there, which I wish we had executed a little bit better, but for the most part it's a good day."

Brady completed 23-of-31 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown and ran for another, operating much of the game out of a no-huddle offense.

"It's not new," Denver coach John Fox said. "They've been doing this for a long, long time. They just have a good group of guys together doing it. ... Our guy (Manning) did an outstanding job today as well."

Manning was 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns but lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack.

That led to Ridley's 8-yard run that put the Patriots ahead 31-7. Ridley led the Patriots with a career-high 151 yards rushing. They gained 251 yards on the ground, one week after rushing for 247 in a 52-28 win over the Buffalo Bills.

"It's awesome," Ridley said. "It takes a lot of pressure off Brady. And that's our leader."

The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs as they kept their offense rolling one week after gaining 580 against the Bills. The Broncos sputtered after beating the Oakland Raiders 37-6. Their previous two losses were by just six points to the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans.

"I know they're been great teams we've lost to, which still doesn't make it any easier," Manning said. "We are working on things and building things. It doesn't happen right away."

Brady and Manning first faced each other in the third game of the 2001 season. The Patriots won 44-13 in Brady's first career start.

There were plenty of close games in subsequent regular-season matchups with six of the previous seven decided by seven points or less.

But, Manning said, "this is not a team you want to fall behind to."

The Patriots led 17-7 at halftime and 31-7 after three quarters. Brady and his runners kept slicing through the Denver defense with a balanced attack. They went ahead to stay, 14-7, midway through the second quarter on a 14-play drive (seven pass plays and seven runs) capped by Shane Vereen's 1-yard run.

Ridley had his third 100-yard rushing game of his career, all this season. Wes Welker, the NFL's leading receiver last year with 122 catches, had 13 for 104 yards.

"There were a few times where I didn't get open," he said, "but for the most part I feel like I got open a lot and was able to make some plays."

The Broncos wasted an excellent opportunity on their first series. Manning hit Thomas with a 43-yard completion to the Patriots 10-yard line, but Sterling Moore stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. The Patriots went four-and-out on the ensuing possession then the Patriots scored on their next three possessions -- 84 yards to Brady's 8-yard pass to Welker, 80 yards to Vereen's touchdown and 93 yards to Stephen Gostkowski's 23-yard field goal.

Denver did tie the game 7-7 on Manning's 1-yard pass to Joel Dreessen but didn't reach the end zone again until Manning hit Decker to end a 90-yard march, cutting the lead to 31-14 with 1:08 left in the third.

But Manning couldn't bring the Broncos all the way back.

"A week ago, we put it all together," Fox said. "I would have expected us to put it all together more this week."

But Brady and his offense is a lot tougher than the Raiders.

"You have to be balanced and I think we were doing a very good job when we're calling the runs," Brady said.

Game notes


McGahee rushed for just 51 yards on 14 carries after gaining more than 100 in two of his previous three games. ... The Patriots rushed for more than 200 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 1978. ... New England outgained Denver 444 yards to 402.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DEN
NE
1st Downs2235
Passing 1st downs
1616
Rushing 1st downs
518
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
7-1311-17
4th down efficiency
1-20-1
Total Plays6689
Total Yards394444
Yards per play6.05.0
Total Drives1111
Passing324193
Comp-Att
31-4423-31
Yards per pass
7.05.5
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-134-30
Rushing70251
Rushing Attempts
2054
Yards per rush
3.54.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Penalties4-216-59
Turnovers31
Fumbles lost
31
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession24:1135:49

Passing Leaders

DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning31/443377.7302-13
NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brady23/312237.2104-30

Rushing Leaders

DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
McGahee14513.6011
Manning294.5010
NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Ridley281515.4120
Bolden14543.9024

Receiving Leaders

DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas918020.0038
McGahee55110.2022
NERECYDSAVGTDLG
Welker131048.0115
Gronkowski4358.8013

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERDENNE
neTD3:13Wes Welker 8 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 84 yds, 4:44
07
SECOND QUARTERDENNE
denTD14:09Joel Dreessen 1 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:03
77
neTD8:00Shane Vereen 1 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yds, 6:08
714
neFG0:06Stephen Gostkowski 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 16 plays, 93 yds, 5:01
717
THIRD QUARTERDENNE
neTD5:02Tom Brady 1 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 16 plays, 80 yds, 6:24
724
neTD4:47Stevan Ridley 8 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 14 yds, 0:09
731
denTD1:11Eric Decker 2 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 90 yds, 3:34
1431
FOURTH QUARTERDENNE
denTD6:46Brandon Stokley 5 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 43 yds, 1:25
2131

Research Notes

When Peyton Manning throws for 3 TD and 0 Int, he's a pretty good bet to win. In fact, entering today Manning was 31-4 in those games. Tonight was just his 5th loss after a performance like that and he's fallen to an eclectic mix of QBs.
  [+]
With his 1st-quarter TD pass to Wes Welker, Tom Brady moved past Brett Favre into sole possession of the 3rd-longest streak of games with a passing TD.
  [+]

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