There was plenty of uncertainty heading into the Week 12 for the Denver Broncos. While they were 8-2 and still in a strong position to make a playoff run, they had lost Peyton Manning to a foot injury and Brock Osweiler was coming off his first career start. Denver won that game, but Osweiler was a bit shaky at times. Then to be hosting the 10-0 New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, the task looked daunting for the Broncos heading into this game.
That shaky start for Osweiler continued early on against the Patriots. Denver found themselves down two touchdowns in the first half and things looked pretty bleak.
Despite the first half struggles, Denver’s defense kept Tom Brady and the Patriots from blowing them out early. Things finally picked up near the end of the half after a 10-play, 77 yard drive capped by this Ronnie Hillman 19-yard touchdown run.
The real dagger into the hearts of Broncos Country came on the first play of the fourth quarter. Tom Brady found a wide open Brandon Bolden for a 63-yard catch and run to blow the game wide open for the Patriots. The 21-7 lead seemed insurmountable with how Osweiler had played up until that point.
The concern seemed hammered home by the immediate three and out from the Broncos offense on the next series. Little did we know that on the ensuing punt, the game would actually be blown wide open. The muffed punt and Broncos recovery completely turned the tide in the game.
Four plays later, C.J. Anderson found room outside for the 15-yard touchdown run to keep the game in doubt.
The Patriots were held to three and outs on their next two possession, which allowed Denver to close the gap a little bit more adding a field goal to cut the lead to 21-17.
That was when Brock freaking Osweiler took over the game.
From their own 17-yard line, Osweiler hit Demaryius Thomas deep down the right sideline for a 36 yard gain to bring them to the two-minute warning. After an incomplete pass, Osweiler then found Emmanuel Sanders deep down the left side of the field for 39-yard gain to the Patriots 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Osweiler made a beautiful back shoulder pass to Andre Caldwell to seal the deal and give the Broncos their first lead of the game at 24-21.
Denver left enough time on the clock for Tom Brady, however. He was able to march the Patriots down the field for a last second field goal to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Brady and the Patriots got the ball first and Broncos Country collectively held their breath. What we all got was a little taste of what Tom Brady would receive two months later in the AFC Championship game. He was pressured all three downs with one sack and two hurried throws.
On the third play, the Broncos faced a third and one. The call went to C.J. Anderson and the rest was history.
The 10-0 Patriots blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead to Brock Osweiler. The Broncos pulled to within one game of homefield advantage in the AFC and would ultimately need this tie breaker with New England to secure it.
This game will go down as one of my all-time favorite Broncos regular season games. It was an incredible comeback and likely the game that launched this team to a Super Bowl title.