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.
The guys react to what Don Banks had to say and get into some more thoughts on Deflategate. Are McNally and Jastremski ever going to break their silence and give their side of the story? Price says yes ... eventually.
Don Banks talks with the NFL Sunday boys about his reaction to Brady's appeal, where we go from here and the NFL's motives and decisions throughout the process. He also gets into the Pats offseason so far and their weakness at CB. Don gives his take on the AFC East this year and how some of the Pats' rivals have improved.
Greg and Price discuss their thoughts on some of the reports that have leaked after Tuesday from Brady's appeal hearing. The boys talk about what the reaction will be if Brady decides to accept a 1-game suspension. Fans want a complete exoneration, but there's a good chance that they won't get that - how will they react? They also talk with Mike Petraglia and get his thought on the appeal and more.
Sam is joined by Jared Weiss from The Garden Report and CLNS Radio to breakdown game 4 of Cavs-Warriors, preview game 5 on Sunday, and analyze the Celtics needs this off-season.
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.
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox third baseman, who hit a homer and knocked in two runs in the win in Tampa Bay.
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox center fielder, who was a single short of the cycle in the blowout win in Kansas City.
Joe Castiglione talked to Justin Masterson and Bob Kendrick after the annual team trip to the museum.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
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!
Doug defended the merits of Boston 2024.
Chris Dempsey explained why Boston 2024 does not make sense for our city.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Gary Tanguay.
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31 NBA GM's have apparently been warned about doing any deals with Danny Ainge.
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They're the topic of the town again, and probably for the wrong reasons. Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss where the Bruins went wrong, what direction they may be heading, and how it may or may not get better.
We wrap up the day with some of the best in sound that you may have missed throughout the weekend.
We go north of the border and try and find out what the heck the Bruins are doing with John Shannon of Rogers SportsNet
Danny's early thoughts on Celtics drafting Terry Rozier at the 16th pick
Planet Mikey, joined by Chris Villani, Lenny Megliola, and the Textress Lucy, discuss whether Mikey Adams should have tipped Best Buy's Geek Squad after delivering his new TV. Also, the state of the Red Sox after losing another series to the Baltimore Orioles.
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Dino, Gerry and Gary discuss which celebrities make the most money.
Joe Kelly and Rusney Castillo are down. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Deven Marrero are up. Can you tell Pawtucket's roster from Boston's? Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable discuss a busy week on the farm with special guests Rob Bradford and affiliate voices Josh Maurer, Mike Antonellis, Kevin Burke, and Cameron White. Plus prospect profiles with Portland's Jantzen Witte and Carlos Asuaje.
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