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.
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Jeff Goodman calls Mike and Rob to drop a ton of knowledge on the upcoming NBA Draft and some of the names available. Sorry fans - he doesn't see Kevin Durant or any big-named free agents coming to Boston and thinks they'll end up making the third pick this season. He also says that there is NO WAY he would trade next year's Brooklyn pick because the draft will be very deep. He discusses the chances of trading with Philly for Okafor, why he like Kris Dunn so much and much more.
Brad Stevens makes his first appearance on the Dale and Holley with Thornton show. We discuss the Atlanta series and what went wrong, and where the Celtics go from here.
Ian Thomsen of NBA.com joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss the next moves for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with the NBA Draft Lottery rapidly approaching. They discussed the crazy ending to Game 2 of Thunder vs Spurs and picked the player they would build their pretend new franchise around.
Christian recaps the Red Sox 5-2 victory over Cleveland.
Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett talked to the Sox DH, who almost hit for the cycle in the win over the Indians at Fenway.
Torey joins Mike and Rob to discuss the last week for the Red Sox, Joe Kelly's awesome performance last night, if Clay Buchholz can figure things out, David Ortiz and more.
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
Kirk rants about Gerry being Corporate Callahan and commands Paul to shut Gerry's mic off.
Brady lawyer, Ted Olson, speaks about the latest Deflategate news on GMA and Gerry reads Larry King's latest Kings Things.
Ortiz, Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr are all MVP candidates. Chili Davis should be too.
The guys start off the show talking about the latest Deflategate news and recap a full weekend of Red Sox action against the Indians.
Joe Kelly threw 6.2 no-hit innings in his first start since returning from the DL on Saturday, and Lou gets very exciting thinking about Joe Kelly and his potential.
DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL PA spoke out about why Tom Brady and his team are filing another appeal, and the guys break down what the latest Deflategate news means for Brady going forward.
We discuss the latest developments in the story that won't die (Deflategate) with the great Michael McCann of SI and UNH law school.
We discuss Joe Kelly's triumphant return from the DL, and why Michael isn't ready to back off of his stance on the pitcher just yet.
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss the Celtics options with the third pick in the upcoming NBA draft, plus talk a little NBA semi-finals as we await word on whether Draymond Green will be suspended.
In the latest It Is What It Is podcast, Chris Price talks with Comcast’s Phil Perry about the latest Deflategate news, what’s next for Tom Brady and what chance he might have when it comes to playing in the opener. The two also take a look at some guys on the roster bubble and which rookies have the best chance of having an impact in 2016 and beyond.
Former New England Football Pro Christian Fauria and one of Boston's premier sports medicine doctors and orthopedic surgeons to the pro's, Dr. Thomas Gill of Steward Health Care, discuss some of the recent injuries that have plagued the Boston Red Sox and how you can avoid similar injuries in your everyday life.
Rob Bradford sits down with both former Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell and current Sox three-bagger, Travis Shaw, for an in-depth discussion on what it's like to be a 6-foot-3, starting third baseman in Boston.
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