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Five Key Moments: Patriots 16, Broncos 3

  1. Brady goes oh-fer in the first

No team scores more points in the first quarter than the Patriots. But Denver held them to zero Sunday, in part because they forced Brady into one of the worst quarters of his career. With zero completions on six attempts, Brady failed to complete a pass in the first quarter for just the third time in his career as a starter. Preventing New England's usual hot start ensured the Broncos would stay within arm's reach of the Patriots at a time when other teams struggled to stay with the AFC's top team.

  1. Heuerman gives Broncos offense some life

Jeff Heuerman showed up in a big way in the first half, as he caught a 31-yard pass from Trevor Siemian down to New England's 49-yard line. It was Siemian's biggest play of the game and one of few first downs the Broncos were able to manage.

3. A nice grab

The Broncos were in need of a big play. Denver had just squandered a chance to score from the Patriots' 14-yard line when quarterback Trevor Siemian threw an interception that Logan Ryan returned for 46 yards. The Patriots then put together a touchdown drive that put them up 10-3 early in the second quarter. So when the Broncos faced a third-and-8 from their own 38, they badly needed a play to keep the offense on the field. Demaryius Thomas made that play as he snagged a Siemian pass down the seam for 16 yards. Though the Broncos would punt on the possession, the play helped flip the field on New England.

4. Holding them short

 When the Patriots got the ball back at their own 8-yard line with 5:14 to play in the half, the Broncos had a chance to flip the field and regain possession. But the mentality quickly changed when the Patriots picked up a few first downs to get to their own 43-yard line. The Broncos would force a short throw and then an incompletion, though, to set up a third-and-5. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady found Martellus Bennett, but T.J. Ward was there in an instant to hold him up and keep the game within one score at halftime.

5. Keeping things close

On third-and-1 from their own 19-yard line, the Patriots almost put the game on ice. Brady found Lewis on a slant, and with the Broncos in zero coverage (no safeties back), Lewis was almost off to the races. Safety Darian Stewart made a diving, shoe-string tackle, however, to bring down Lewis in the open field and prevent the Patriots from taking a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter.


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