FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After it seemed like everything was going the Broncos' way in the first half, the tables turned in the third quarter.
New England came out of the locker room with 31 unanswered points to turn a 24-0 Broncos advantage into a 31-24 Patriots lead.
The Broncos would tie it up to force overtime before ultimately falling by a score of 34-31.
"It is disappointing," Manning said. "Certainly, you have a chance to beat a good team at their place."
Manning and the Broncos offense kept the ball on the ground for much of the first half in a blustery Gillette Stadium.
Manning finished the game 19-of-36 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 70.4 quarterback rating.
Running back Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 18 times for 107 yards, becoming the first Broncos running back to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the first half since RB Selvin Young rushed for 143 yards through two quarters vs. Kansas City on Dec. 9, 2007.
Moreno finished with 224 yards on 37 carries, setting career highs in both categories.
"The running game was hot," Manning said when asked if the team's game plan was to lean on the ground game due to the weather conditions. "Knowshon was running it well, the line was doing a good job. That was not necessarily the game plan. The game plan is to move the ball and we were moving the ball running the ball and Knowshon was hot, so we were riding him."
Manning only needed to throw for 61 yards in the opening half as the team capitalized short fields and a defensive score off three fumbles recovered by the Denver defense on its way to a 24-0 first-half lead.
But in the second half, it was the Patriots' takeaways that set up their offense for scoring opportunities. Running back Montee Ball fumbled on a screen pass and quarterback Demaryius Thomas was intercepted.
Both those turnovers led to Patriots touchdowns.
"Obviously, the momentum changed," Manning said. "We turned it over, gave them some momentum. It's hard when you give them a short field and put your defense in a bind. That is difficult to overcome."
After New England's 31-straight points to open the second half, Manning led Denver on a 10-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game at 31 with 3:06 to play in the fourth quarter.
Manning completed 5-of-7 passes for 53 yards and capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
After each teams came up with defensive stops, the game headed to overtime knotted at 31.
"I still felt like we had a chance there, getting the ball there at the very end," Manning said. "I thought we were going to have the ball last and either we were going to score to win the game or I guess it could have ended in a tie. I hated the way that ended in not getting a chance there to get our hands on the ball."
New England won the coin toss, but elected to choose which end of the field to defend and have the wind at its back.
Both teams traded scoreless possessions to open the extra session. After Manning and the offense moved the ball with a 10-play, 50-yard drive, the possession stalled with a third-down incompletion at the New England 42.
After the defense came up with a three-and-out, the Patriots punt bounced off Tony Carter and was recovered by New England at the Denver 13-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal.
"We had two good drives in overtime," Manning said. "All we needed was like five yards on that last play in order to give Prater a field goal attempt and couldn't get that. Very disappointing finish to the game, for sure."
While the outcome may hit Broncos fans harder due to the dramatic comeback and overtime ending, Manning pointed out that it still just counts as one in the loss column.
"I think that's the test of good football teams," Manning said when asked how the team would respond. "I think it would be wrong if guys weren't disappointed and bothered by this loss. So, I think you're allowed a night and maybe half a day tomorrow to still be ticked off about it and disappointed. That is part of being a professional, to learn from it, study the film, learn from the coaches. We did some good things. Obviously, the running game was great. Just had some mistakes. When you make those mistakes, it's hard to beat good teams on the road."
Next up: a rematch against Kansas City, who is tied with Denver atop the AFC West standings with a 9-2 record.
"I think by the time you start gameplanning on Tuesday, guys lifting weights and ready to go on Wednesday, it's time to move on to Kansas City, and that's what you have to do," Manning said.