ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –When the Broncos left Gillette Stadium after last year's 31-21 loss, the team held a 2-3 record in quarterback Demaryius Thomas's first four games with the team.
The Patriots led by 24 with 4:42 to play in the third quarter when the Broncos' comeback began. Denver scored the final 14 points to end up with the 10-point loss.
More important than drawing the final margin closer, that comeback effort showed the 2012 Broncos the type of football they were capable of playing.
And after that flight home to Denver, the team showed the rest of the league.
Since then, the Broncos are 20-1 in the regular season, the best record in the NFL in that span.
"I think it definitely served as a little bit of a wakeup call," Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "There were some moments – we have a prideful group – I think they got the best of us in a few situations and did a nice job form their standpoint. We didn't handle it very well. So I think we grew from that point forward as a unit, I would say that's accurate."
The Broncos gained 394 yards of offense in the game, but turned the ball over on fumbles three times.
"I think we realized if we weren't going to stop making some mistakes, stop turning the ball over, having mental errors, that it was going to be tough to win, especially against good teams," Manning said. "But that was early in the season for kind of a new team, certainly a new offense. I feel like we did improve from that point on."