DENVER —** Unable to capitalize on the drives into New England territory, Trevor Siemian and the Broncos offense left the field a frustrated group after Sunday's 16-3.
Siemian and Co. moved past the Patriots' 40-yard line five times, but came away with just three points. Three drives ended on turnovers: one interception, one fumble and one turnover on downs. However, what proved most frustrating was how the drives ended, as that they came after periods of effective offensive play.
Photos of game action during Denver's Week 15 battle against the Patriots. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)
"We were moving the ball real well and don't get any points to show for it and give it to them," Siemian said of his interception in the red zone at the beginning of the second quarter. "Not a lot of margin for error down there. I can't make that mistake for us."
That would be the closest the Broncos would get to the end zone. The interception proved doubly painful because it helped set up the Patriots for a touchdown drive of their own.
"I think we had 150 yards in the first quarter or something like that. A lot of ball movement, but you look up on the board and there's three points there," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "And actually they turn that into a touchdown, so that's a 14-point swing in a lot of ways. But that's the way they play. You better find a way to play good against them in the red zone. Whether you move the ball or not, you've got to find a way to be successful down there and we didn't do that."
At one point in the first quarter, Siemian was actually out-dueling his New England counterpart. Prior to the interception, Siemian had a 9-for-12 stat line for 106 yards and a 101.4 quarterback rating. Brady, meanwhile was 0-for-6 at the same juncture and had a rating of just 39.6. The beginning of the game marked Brady's worst start since 2006, and it was only the third time in his career that he did not complete a pass in the first quarter.
In the second half, the Broncos could not regain the remarkable efficiency of the first quarter. Denver had chances for big plays that could have provided sparks to put the pressure back on New England's defense, but they were either just out of reach or were jarred loose.
"[We're] frustrated, no doubt," Siemian said. "Especially early when we were moving the ball pretty well and don't have any points to show for it. A lot of that's on me and we missed a couple opportunities to at least get us some points there early on. And that comes back to haunt you, for sure."
Though the Broncos' playoff hopes took a hit with Sunday's loss, the team's focus now turns to the Chiefs. Winning out won't guarantee a playoff spot, but it's the only mindset they can have. "Well, we've got to beat Kansas City," Siemian said. "But, you know, our team's got a lot of grit, and I think we're up for the challenge. I think everybody's already looking forward to next week."