In some circles, the New England Patriots are viewed as the Broncos' version of the boogeyman. I believe this perception has originated from the fact that the last three New England wins over Denver have been very lopsided affair. The historical record shows that the Broncos have more often had the Patriots' number than the reverse. The 1960s were horrible for the Broncos as they went 6-12 against New England. Since 1969, however, Denver has gone 19-6 against the Patriots. That span covers an 11-game winning streak (including a pair of playoff wins) from 1984 to 1998. Since 1998, Denver has gone 5-5 against the Patriots (including breaking even on a pair of playoff games). Once again, however, we view the Patriots through the lens of a 2-3 record in the Broncos' last five games against New England.
The first of the Broncos win that five game series came in Foxborough on Week 3 of the 2006 season. In this relatively low-scoring game, Jake Plummer threw for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Broncos compiled 144 rushing yards led by Tatum Bell's 123. On the other side of the ball, the Denver defense pursued a policy of "bend but don't break" as they allowed the Patriots' offense to gain 370 yards but kept New England out of the end zone (including not allowing any field goals) until nearly halfway through the fourth quarter. When the final gun sounded, the Broncos walked away with a 17-7 victory.
The next meeting also took place in New England on Week 7 of the 2008 season. The Patriots used four Broncos' turnovers (2 fumbles and 2 interceptions) to put 20 points on the board on their way to building a 34-0 lead by the end of the third quarter. Denver finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter when Jay Cutler connected with Daniel Graham for a 10-yard touchdown pass. New England added a final touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 41-7.
Denver notched its second win during the phenomenal 6-0 run that started the 2009 season. At first, this game looked like it was going to be another case of New England breezing to a win as Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 10-0 first quarter lead and a 17-7 advantage at the half. Denver cut the New England lead to 7 points with a field goal in the third quarter. Then came one of the more miraculous drives of the 2009 Broncos. Denver received a ball on a punt the placed the Broncos at their own 2-yard line. Kyle Orton reportedly told a joke in the huddle to start the drive, though no-one was willing to repeat the joke. In any event, Orton proceeded to lead the Broncos on a 12-play drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, giving Denver a 17-17 tie. Neither team was able to score in the final 5:15 of the game and so it went into overtime. Denver won the toss and elected to receive. The Broncos moved from their own 20-yard line to the New England 22-yard line where Matt Prater kicked the game winning field goal.
The next two games against the Patriots were not quite as enjoyable for Broncos' fans. The first came on Week 15 of the 2011 season. The Broncos had had Tim Tebow lead them on a miraculous six-game winning streak when the Patriots came to town. Although the Broncos scored on each of their first two possessions in the game, they found themselves only leading by a 13-7 margin. Denver extended that margin to 16-7 on the third play of the second quarter. A Patriots' touchdown drive was followed by a Lance Ball fumble which led to a New England field goal, and the Broncos abruptly found themselves trailing 17-16. A fumble by Tim Tebow on Denver's next possession led to another Patriots score and increased the margin to 24-16. After a Broncos punt, the Patriots added a field goal for a 27-16 halftime margin. The third quarter was relatively quiet, although New England was able to increase its lead to 34-16. Denver tried to crawl back into the game when Tebow scored on a 2-yard run with 8:46 left in the game to make the deficit 11 points at 34-23. The Patriots put the game away when they marched 80 yards on the ensuing possession to increase their lead to 41-23.
The 2012 season saw a much-touted matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning -- only this time Manning was wearing orange and blue. Unfortunately, this game came on Week 5 as Manning was still trying to get his new offense into a good rhythm. With the score tied 7-7 in the second quarter, the Broncos watched New England pile up 24 unanswered points through the second and third quarters before Denver could get back on track. The Broncos did rally for a touchdown with just over one minute left in the third to cut the deficit to 17 (31-14). Both teams stalled going into the fourth quarter until Elvis Dumervil forced a Tom Brady fumble with just over 8 minutes left in the game. Manning led the Broncos to a touchdown to cut the margin to 10 points at 31-21. Mike Adams forced a fumble on the Patriots next possession and Denver looked like it was going to march in for another touchdown as it moved the ball from its own 32-yard line to the Patriots' 14-yard line. Unfortunately, Willis McGahee was stripped of the ball at the New England 12-yard line. The Patriots recovered the fumble and were able to run out the clock to preserve the win.
Overall, Denver is 25-18-0 in the regular season versus the Patriots and 2-1 in the postseason. How do you like their chances in November?