Posted on November 13, 2017, by Travis Pulver

For the Denver Broncos to pull off the upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, they needed to do a few things. Their defense would have to live up to its reputation. They needed Von Miller and company to keep Tom Brady from working his magic. They couldn’t afford to make any big mistakes on special teams either.

In case that wasn’t asking enough, Brock Osweiler would need to play like a guy who deserved the contract Houston offered him last season.

Via @SNFonNBC

But it didn’t happen. As a result, Tom Brady had no trouble leading the Patriots to a 41-16 victory over the Broncos.

“It’s always hard to win in the NFL, certainly on the road,” Brady said (ESPN). “We found a way to do it last year, and we’re off to a good start this year.”

To be fair, Osweiler did not lose the game for Denver. He just didn’t do much to help the win (18-33 for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception). Denver’s special teams and defense, however, are another story.

Special teams play was especially costly early on. There was Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt that led to Brady’s first touchdown pass of the day. After Denver answered with a field goal, Dion Lewis sliced through the Broncos kick-off team for a 103-yard touchdown.

Just like that, even though the Patriots had only generated 29 yards of offense, they were ahead 14-3.

A blocked punt in the second quarter set the Patriots up for a field goal. A late substitution penalty helped keep another Patriots drive alive and led to another touchdown. Broncos miscues on special teams ended up leading to 24 points for the Patriots.

“How are you supposed to win against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when you’re starting off” like that? Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe said after the game (ESPN). “You can’t.”

At the end of the first half, the two teams had produced almost the same on offense (Broncos—189 yards; Patriots—184 yards).But thanks to all the special teams errors by the Broncos, New England led 27-9 at the half.

Denver tried to make a game of it with a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half to cut the deficit to 27-16. But the defense couldn’t stop the Patriots on their opening drive. An eight-yard touchdown run by Dion Lewis extended the Patriots advantage to 34-16.

A six-yard touchdown catch by James White on New England’s next drive closed out the scoring, 41-16.

Via @SNFonNBC

The Aftermath

After a slow start to the season, the Patriots have now won five in a row to improve to 7-2. The team has weathered injuries and figured out how to move on. Despite losing linebacker Don’t’a Hightower, the defense appears to have gotten over its early season issues.

They travel to Mexico City next week to take on the Oakland Raiders.

Denver started the season with a bang going 3-1 in their first four games. They have since lost five in a row. Brock Osweiler isn’t doing a bad job with the offense.  But the defense is now struggling having given up 165 points during the losing streak. At this point, the playoffs are a longshot. But the coaching staff may have to worry about keeping their jobs if they don’t find a way to improve.

They will face the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

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