DENVER — The Patriots remarkable undefeated run to start the season came to an end in snowy Denver Sunday night, as New England not only lost its first game of the season in overtime against the Broncos, 30-24, but tight end Rob Gronkowski, who went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Denver put together an impressive second-half run, coming from a 21-7 fourth-quarter deficit to come away with the win that stopped the Patriots 10-0 start to the season. The Broncos got fourth-quarter touchdowns from C.J. Anderson and Andre Caldwell (the latter with less than two minutes to go), as well as a 21-yard field goal from Brandon McManus. New England tied the game in dramatic fashion at the end of regulation with a 47-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, but the Broncos ended things with a 48-yard touchdown run from C.J. Anderson on their first possession of the extra session to finish things off.
Tom Brady finished 23-for-42 for 280 yards and three touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Brock Osweiler also ended 23-for-42 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Despite the win, the loss of Gronkowski and Hightower, as well as the injuries to Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis, continues to create an imperfect storm for the Patriots, who have suffered several key injuries this season.
New England jumped to a 14-0 lead in the early going as the Broncos has issues with the Patriots offense, as well as the snowy conditions. Gronkowski’s touchdown came on a 23-yard pass play where the big tight end shook off a defender and made it to the end zone. Chandler’s touchdown was a 9-yard reception after an Osweiler interception to make it 14-0 with 10:40 left in the half.
Denver was able to get on the board at the end of the first half to cut the Patriots’ lead in half as the teams headed to the locker room. After a scoreless third quarter, New England punched one in at the start of the fourth when Brady found Bolden down the Denver sideline on a wheel route out of the backfield that ended up going for 63 yards to make it 21-7.
The Broncos crept closer with a 15-yard touchdown run early in the fourth, a play where they cashed in on some great field position following a botched punt return from Chris Harper. After the Patriots were forced to punt, Denver tacked on three more when Brandon McManus nailed his first field goal of the night to make it 21-17 with just over six minutes left.
But with New England driving with less than five minutes on the clock, Brady’s pass for Gronkowski was off the mark, and the tight end went down awkwardly in a heap. He was carted off the field, with the team announcing immediately that he would not return because of a knee issue.
That set the stage for the final, frantic finish, one that started with a touchdown from the Broncos to make it 24-21 with less than two minutes remaining. The Patriots answered with a field goal at the end of regulation, but Anderson’s 48-yard dash to paydirt on Denver’s first possession of the extra session ended things.
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