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Broncos have playoffs hopes dashed by Patriots

The Denver Broncos season is over and it was ended by the now 4-11 New England Patriots. Losing to a three-win team at home is about as embarrassing as it gets for a team with the playoffs on the line.

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In a game the Denver Broncos had to have, they laid an absolute egg at home against a team that had won three games all season. For three quarters, anyway. Then the fourth quarter came around with Denver down 23-7 at home to the lowly New England Patriots and they woke up.

With 10 minutes left in the game, they needed 16 points and they got those 16 behind two touchdowns and subsequent two-point conversions. In improbable fashion, they tied the game up and had a chance to lead a game-winning drive with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. That wouldn’t happen as they would lose a bit of momentum with a three-and-out with just over a minute left in regulation.

Head Coach Sean Payton decided to try to use up his timeouts to get the ball back thinking there was no way Bailey Zappe could drive down for a winning field goal, but that’s exactly what he did to effectively end the Broncos season. Denver has now lost at home to the Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, New York Jets, and now these Patriots. All teams that could finish with 10 or more losses on the season. Pathetic.

Broncos vs. Patriots final score

TEAM 1st 2nd 3rd 4th FINAL
TEAM 1st 2nd 3rd 4th FINAL
New England Patriots 0 3 20 3 26
Denver Broncos 7 0 0 16 23

First Quarter

Denver’s defense came out with a huge play on the game’s first snap with this strip-sack on Bailey Zappe to give the Broncos offense the ball at the Patriots six yard line.

Unfortunately, the Broncos offense would do nothing with that advantage and turn it over on downs at the one yard line. After trading punts a few times, the Patriots made the mistake of punting to Marvin Mims Jr. who returned it 50 yards to the Patriots 25-yard line to set up Denver’s first actual scoring drive of the game.

Javonte Williams would close things out with a touchdown run from four yards out to put Denver up by a touchdown in the first quarter.

Broncos 7, Patriots 0. Full first quarter recap.

Second Quarter

For most of the second quarter, the two teams failed to do much. The Patriots added a field goal early in the second quarter and then late in the second both teams would miss field goal attempts. It was about as boring of a quarter of football as we’ve seen this season.

Broncos 7, Patriots 3. Full second quarter recap.

Third Quarter

After the Broncos offered up their typical three-and-out to start a second half, Bailey Zappe and the Patriots drove methodically down the field to put Denver on the ropes. Zeke Elliot took a little toss outside and leaped over a would-be tackler to walk into the end zone to give New England their first lead of the game.

The quarter would continue towards disaster after the Patriots put up another touchdown on their next drive, then Marvin Mims Jr. would fumble on a kickoff return to give the Patriots an even bigger lead.

Patriots 23, Broncos 7. Full third quarter recap.

Fourth Quarter

Down by 16, the Broncos were running out of time with 10 minutes left in the game. Russell Wilson heaved a ball deep to Marvin Mims Jr. who hauled it in at the Patriots 12 yard line for a 47-yard gain.

That play would lead to a touchdown pass from Wilson to Lucas Krull and they would convert the two-point conversion on a pass to Brandon Johnson to make it a eight-point game.

Patriots 23, Broncos 15.

For some reason, the Patriots came out throwing it on their next drive and while Zappe completed all three passes they came up a few yards short and had to punt it away with six and a half minutes left in the game.

From their own 22-yard line, the Broncos needed to put together another scoring drive. Jerry Jeudy, who was silent all game long, kicked things off with a nifty move for a nice gain then Brandon Johnson helped things along to get Denver down to the Patriots 27-yard line. A holding penalty made things difficult, but Jeudy helped them on a big pass to setup a 3rd and four where Wilson fired a touchdown to Johnson.

The comeback wasn’t complete, however, until the Broncos completed their second consecutive two-point conversion on a touchdown score and they did just that with Javonte Williams securing the tie game with just under three minutes to go in the game.

Broncos 23, Patriots 23.

After forcing a quick three and out, the Broncos would get the ball back with less than two minutes left in the game. Taking over at their own 39-yard line, all the Broncos needed was to drive down and eat up enough clock for the game-winning field goal. Instead, they would go three-and-out as well to give the ball right back to the Patriots with over a minute to go.

Sean Payton thought to use his timeouts to get the ball back, but all he did was give the Patriots time to make a big play to give them a chance to kick the game-winning field goal to send Denver to 7-8 on the season.

Patriots 26, Broncos 23.


How would you grade the Broncos performance against the Patriots on Christmas Eve?

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