The Denver Broncos finally did the right thing with a winning coin toss. They deferred to the New England Patriots to give the electric crowd a chance to spur the defense to an early stop against Tom Brady.
After two short runs, the Patriots were faced with a third and six on their opening series. Brady would go towards Brandin Cooks only to have it nearly picked by Bradley Roby outside.
Isaiah McKenzie promptly pissed away all hopes of momentum with a fumble to set the Patriots up with excellent field position inside the red zone.
Two plays later the Patriots would put up a touchdown.
Patriots 7, Broncos 0.
The Broncos offense needed to immediately break their losing effort on the field to start the game. Given the special teams disaster from McKenzie.
Brock Osweiler responded with a strike to Emmanuel Sanders out to midfield on the Broncos first play on offense. After two short runs, Osweiler was faced with a third and four as he went back to Sanders for ten yards and a first down inside field goal range.
From the Patriots 29, Osweiler found Demaryius Thomas on a quick pass outside for six yards. Devontae Booker took the second down handoff for two yards to setup a third and two. Osweiler, from the shotgun, hit Thomas across the middle who dropped it.
Brandon McManus would boot the ball through the uprights for a 39-yard field goal.
Patriots 7, Broncos 3.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dion Lewis would take it 103-yards for the touchdown to blow the game wide open on special teams.
Patriots 14, Broncos 3.
Brock Olivo seemed to want the Patriots to return the kick with the coverage and kickoff attempt. He might need to find himself in the unemployment line after the kind of season he has coached.
Brock Olivo might have the hottest seat in the league right now.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) November 13, 2017
After an incompletion to Sanders, Osweiler went to Thomas to set up a third and five. Osweiler hit Sanders on a slant for a huge gain into Patriots territory on a 38-yard catch and run.
Anderson rumbled and stumbled for a 21-yard gain down to the Patriots 15-yard line. Osweiler handed off Booker on the next play for no gain and threw it away on second down. A blatant roughing the passer was not called on that play.
On third and ten, overthrew Jamaal Charles to end the drive. McManus would kick a 33-yard field goal to at least keep the score close.
Patriots 14, Broncos 6.
The Broncos defense - after a long hiatus - saw Todd Davis do some odd things trying to cover a tight end that didn’t work giving up a 27-yard gain to open the Patriots next drive.
Two plays later, on third and two, Brady hit James White on a crossing route for a first down for a 10-yard gain to the Broncos 32-yard line. A short five-yard pass and a four-yard run, the Patriots faced another third and short. Brady attempted a quarterback sneak, but was stuffed just short of the first down marker.
On fourth and inches, Brady avoided the sneak and handed off to the left for a short run and a first down.
Rob Gronkowski ended the first quarter with his first catch to setup a first and goal opportunity for the Patriots.