FOXBORO -- In a game of keepaway, Tom Brady led scoring drives of 12, 14, 16 and 16 plays while Wes Welker scorched the Broncos for 13 catches and 104 yards helping the Patriots turn back Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 31-21, Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Brady finished 23-of-31 for 223 yards, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown. Manning finished 31-of-44 and 345 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots set a new franchise record with 35 first downs.
Stevan Ridley became the first Patriots running back to rush for over 100 yards in consecutive games since Laurence Maroney in 2007, carrying the ball 28 times for 151 yards. In winning their second straight, New England improved to 3-2 and gained sole possession of first place in the AFC East, pending Monday night's game between the Jets and Texans at MetLife Stadium.
Rob Ninkovich had a strip-sack that led to a Vince Wilfork recovery and forced a critical Willis McGahee fumble as the Broncos were deep in Patriots territory and down just 10 with four minutes left. McGahee, a drive earlier, dropped a certain first down on fourth-and-1 to help the Patriots survive a shaky fourth quarter that began with them leading 31-7.
With Manning coming out throwing on the first four plays of the game and moving the Broncos down the field, Sterling Moore - as he did in the AFC Championship - came up with a key play of the game. A wide open Demaryius Thomas caught a 43-yard pass from Manning over the middle and rambled down to the Patriots 10. But Moore came up from behind, caught Thomas and poked the ball free. Moore scrambled to his feet and recovered the ball at the Patriots 3 and returned it to the 16.
Brady was able to move it to the 31 before the Patriots were forced to punt. After a Broncos punt, the Patriots offense took control using the no-huddle offense. Brady orchestrated TD drives of 84 and 80 yards, totaling 12 and 14 plays respectively. Brady hit Wes Welker in the left flat for a 6-yard TD to get scoring underway in the first quarter.
Manning responded with a long drive of his own, using a 19-yard passing interference call on Devin McCourty in end zone to set up a 1-yard TD strike to Joel Dreesen. Brady came back and marched down the field. After a 9-yard completion to Brandon Lloyd inches shy of the goal line, Shane Vereen ran it in for his second career TD and a 14-7 Patriots lead.
The Patriots were pinned at their own 1-yard line when Brady led a 16-play drive that had New England first and goal at the Denver 9. But the drive stalled and the Patriots had to settle for a 23-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them a 17-7 halftime lead. Welker had nine catches on 10 targets in the first half for 71 yards. The nine catches are the most he's ever had in his career in the first half.
After going three-and-out for the first time to open the second half, Brady got the ball back and led the team on another 16-play drive, capped off when he dove over the middle from one yard for the TD. The Patriots scored 18 seconds later after Ninkovich strip-sacked Manning lead to Ridley touchdown run of six yards.
It was the 65th straight game the Patriots won at home when leading at halftime. The Patriots hit the road again next Sunday, as they take on the Seahawks in Seattle before returning home on the 21st to take on the Jets.
We check in with the playmaker, the great number 88 Michael Irvin for his unique take on deflategate, the Patriots and the NFL.
Ben Volin has been a must-read on the Pats and Deflategate despite him ruffling the feathers of many Pats fans and he joins NFL Sunday to discuss the latest. He talks about the owners' meetings and what he expects to unfold this week as well as the showdown between Goodell and Kraft.
The guys provide more thoughts on the latest on Deflategate and get callers' reaction.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton speak to Red Sox Manager John Farrell live from Fenway Park for our weekly visit.
Joe & Dave talked to the rookie Sox catcher, who knocked in the go-ahead run against Felix Hernandez.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino fater the Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 and saw some great defense from Shane as well as a solo HR from him.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Shirley Leung joins Dino, Gerry and Kirk to look at Boston's Olympic hopes.
Stephen A. joined us to discuss Tom Brady's suspension.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys talk about the charges surrounding one of the stars of 19 Kids and Counting and what TLC should do with the show.
Lou, Christian and Greg react to their interview with Bill Polian and take calls from listeners to get their take on the latest surrounding Deflategate.
With all the Deflategate news, Lou hasn't had a chance to complain about the Red Sox and their poor start. Christian and Greg give Lou a minute to get all his thoughts out as fast as he can.
David Letterman has wrapped up his show and we picked out four of our favorite moments from his career.
Roger Goodell's integrity and credibility is in question and Sally Jenkins wrote a scathing piece on Roger Goodell joins us.
Mikey Adams is joined by Chris Villani as they take calls on the Friday night Two Minute Drill and discuss the ongoing DeflateGate saga with the New England Patriots and Roger Goodell's role in hearing the Tom Brady appeal.
Continued conversation on deflate-gate and the aftermath of the Brady suspension and sanctions passed down to the Patriots organization
Deflate-gate is still the hot topic, still gaining personal insight and what could come next
Julian Edlow of the Green Street Blog and Draftkings.com joins the program to break down the the two conference finals series, the NBA Draft, and whether or not Corey Brewer is the ugliest player in the game?
Ben, Russ, and Alex recap the Revs loss to Sporting KC and discuss what the Revs need moving forward. Also discussed is the FFP and how it will affect the transfer window.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk discuss Dino's rehab experience.
Dale, Michael and Jerry bring you complete coverage of Robert Kraft's capitulation, and fan reaction which generally less than pleased with the Patriots latest action.More from this show