As the snow came down in the Mile High City, the Broncos got off to a slow start in the first half. But an overtime win, thanks to a huge touchdown run from C.J. Anderson, heated up that stadium like nothing else could.
The second half was a completely different game from the first, as the Broncos' defense regrouped to keep Tom Brady in check - despite injuries to T.J. Ward and Sylvester Williams that had the two starters sidelined since the first quarter - and the offense stayed patient despite a third quarter of only punting.
But a back-and-forth fourth quarter that ended in a 24-24 tie and led to overtime was all the Broncos wanted - to be in the game at the end.
And boy were they. The Broncos defense held off the Pats offense on the first series of OT, which opened the way for Anderson to continue his running dominance by scooting 48 yards to victory.
In the first Brady-Osweiler series, Broncos "ran" away 30-24 and sent the Patriots home with their first loss on the season.
Oh, how I love the snow.
Remember when the #Broncos went down 21-7 against the Patriots in the snow, AND THEN CAME BACK AND WON?— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 30, 2015
First half - Patriots up 14-7
The Broncos got off to a rocky start, going three-and-out in the snowy cold, followed by a 30-yard punt from Britton Colquitt to give the Patriots something you never want to do - all-too-excellent field position.
As expected Tom Brady took advantage of it with a couple of easy passes to Brandon LaFell and his favorite tight end Rob Gronkowski. On the fourth play of the drive, Brady hit Gronk on a 23-yard play for an easy touchdown just three minutes into the game.
Ward was the second one to miss a tackle attempt on Gronkowski. Ugly play, ugly series for the defense. Pats lead, 7-0.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 30, 2015
Another three-and-out by the Broncos started to give fans that eerie feeling the Patriots would bust the game wide open early, but a three-and-out from the Pats and some promising runs from C.J. Anderson kept fans from popping the Pepto Bismal just yet. After Bennie Fowler came up just inches short of a first down on 3rd and 9, Gary Kubiak kept the offense in for 4th and 1, which Osweiler handled easily with a QB sneak.
Broncos improve to 6-of-9 on 4th down with Osweiler sneak. Team ranks 3rd in the NFL in 4th down conversions (66.7%)— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) November 30, 2015
After two running plays amassing eight yards, Osweiler was sacked on third down, losing field position and any chance for a field goal, so the 12-play drive ended in a punt.
A good stop by the Denver defense gave the Broncos the ball on their 10, and three plays later Osweiler's pass was tipped and Patriots' Chandler Jones came down with it.
Starting 1st and 10 on the Broncos' 15, Brady found Scott Chandler on 3rd and 4 for an easy touchdown in the back of the end zone. Patriots up 14-0.
The Broncos and Patriots each exchanged a couple of drives ending in punts before Osweiler and the offense put together a near-perfect drive of 10 plays and 77 yards that mixed long runs, big pass plays and good tight end production. No. 17 hit Owen Daniels and Emmanuel Sanders for a couple big first downs, but it was a 19-yard run into the end zone by Ronnie Hillman that put the Broncos on the board with 2:07 left in the first half.
Brady finished the half with 106 yards and two touchdowns while Osweiler turned in 90 yards and one INT, but the Broncos' scoring drive showed great promise heading into the locker room on a snowy Sunday.
New England opened up the second half with the ball, and after a one-yard run on the first play, Broncos sacked Brady on 2nd and 9, but a late hit from Von Miller turned what could have been 3rd and long into 1st and 10 plus 15 yards. Despite a strike to Gronkowski after the penalty, the Broncos' D held tough, and on 4th and 1, Belichick opted to punt away.
With a snowy field that barely showed the hash marks, it was no surprise that punting was a theme for the rest of the third quarter as both teams found little success through the air and only limited on the ground. At the end of the third quarter, both Brady and Osweiler were 15/25 with almost the same yardage. The difference was one pick for Oz and two TDs for Brady.
But as the fourth quarter started, the scores started coming.
Wonder if this cold weather is causing the balls to become ............... deflated? I'll show myself out.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 30, 2015
It took Brady just three plays to go 65 yards and throw a touchdown to Brandon Bolden as he beat Danny Trevathan down the right side and bolted to the end zone.
But after the Broncos had to punt the ball away on their next series, the Orange & Blue team caught a break when the Patriots fumbled on the punt, and Broncos recovered in Pats' territory. A huge 17-yard play to Sanders set up a 15-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson, and with just two-and-a-half minutes into the fourth quarter, the Broncos pulled it to a one-score game, 21-14.
Broncos caught a break when a Patriots' holding call turned a huge first down deep into Broncos' territory into 3rd and 20, which Brady could not convert and the Pats punted once again. A whiffed catch from Omar Bolden was recovered, giving the Broncos a huge break and another chance to tie the game. Getting down to the Patriots 10 with a 1st and goal, the Broncos couldn't capitalize with a touchdown and instead settled for a 21-yard field goal from Brandon McManus.
I'm okay w/ the FG. Not okay: If #Broncos had gone for 2 a TD ago like I wanted, would be a one-FG game. Instead still need TD.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 30, 2015
On the ensuing Patriots' drive, a crucial offensive pass interference call on Gronkowski set up 3rd and 15 and led to a deep incomplete and a punt back to the Broncos with just over four minutes to play.
The Broncos couldn't make anything happen as Osweiler took a big hit on third down and the Broncos punted away less than a minute after getting the ball back.
Brady and the Patriots took over on their 25 and wasted two minutes before giving the Broncos the ball back for a wing and a prayer to pull out the game, down four and with no timeouts.
And that's exactly how it seemed when Demaryius Thomas FINALLY got his first catch of the game - a 36-yard high ball that only DT could have gotten.
Another strike down the field to Sanders - who had been making huge catches all night - put the Broncos on the Pats' 8-yard-line with just over a minute-and-a-half to play.
A sack on 2nd and goal would have set up a very dramatic third down, but holding on the Patriots created a first and goal opportunity that also stopped the clock with 1:15. Next play, Osweiler hit the oft-criticized but sudden hero Andre Caldwell for the go-ahead touchdown. Broncos led 24-21 with 1:09 to go.
The Broncos' D kept Brady and Co. out of the end zone, but after a first down with four seconds left, the Pats' oh-so-accurate kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a 47-yarder to send the game into overtime with the two tied at 24.
The Broncos' defense certainly showed its toughness as the Patriots went three-and-out to start OT, which meant it would only take a field goal to win the game. But Broncos took over on their 42-yard line and decided a touchdown run against the Patriots was a far more suitable way to win.
After all, the run game rocked it all night, putting up 179 yards of offense and providing three touchdowns - two from Anderson and one from Hillman
It was so crazy and so fun, that win almost felt - dare I say it? Tebow-esque.
Kicking and screaming.
Brady v. Brock I was incredible. Brock wins! With help from CJ and co, of course, but Brock wins!— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 30, 2015