In a game where either side would have been happy with a tie score at one point or the other it was fitting the winner was decided by a turnover. With 3 minutes left in overtime the Broncos’ Tony Carter touched a punt, which the Patriots recovered to set up the game-winning, 31-yard field goal. For Patriot fans the game affirmed the belief there’s always an opportunity to win if Brady is given enough time.
By the time the 4th quarter started there was a 3 point spread in the score with the Broncos leading 24-21 and the Broncos had the ball on their own 26 yard line. It looked like a typical Brady/Manning game situation to anyone just tuning in but getting to that point was anything but typical. The Patriots had fumbled on their first 3 possessions and the Bronco’s jumped out to a 17 point lead in the first quarter and extended the lead to 24-0 at halftime.
Brady came out throwing in the 3rd quarter leading the Patriots on a 1 run 7 pass drive for a touchdown and a 24-7 score. Whatever was causing turnovers in the 1st half moved to the Denver bench and 6 plays into their possession the Bronco’s fumbled giving the Patriots the ball on the Denver 32 yard line. 6 plays later Brendon Bolden crossed the goal line and the score went to 24-14. The Bronco’s were forced to punt of the ensuing possession and Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 65 yard scoring drive ending with a TD catch by Rob Gronkowski. The pass was Brady’s 350th career touchdown pass, the 5th player in NFL history to reach that number. With the score now 24-21 the game moves into the 4th quarter.
The turnover spirit was settled in on the Bronco’s side of the field and one minute into the 4th quarter Logan Ryan intercepted a Peyton Manning pass giving the Patriots a first down on the Bronco’s 30 yards line. Two minutes later Brady hit Edelman with a 14 yard pass for a touchdown giving the Patriots their 1st lead of the game at 24-28. Both teams settled down a bit with Brady leading a 12 play 33 yard drive ending in a field goal and a 31-24 lead. Peyton Manning then drove the Bronco’s 80 yards in 10 plays to tie the score at 31 with 3 minutes left in regulation. Both teams had a chance on offense to end the game in regulation but time ran out.
Both teams had two possessions and failed to score in overtime when the Patriots punted from their own 44 yard line and 3 minutes remaining in overtime. Wes Welker made a last minute decision to not field the punt and the ball bounced against Tony Carter of the Broncos before being recovered by Nate Ebner on the Bronco’s 13 yard line. Shortly after the 2 minute warning Stephan Gostkowski kicked the game winning field goal.
It took a while to get there but by the end this Brady/Manning contest will be remembered as one of the best or at least the only one with 7 turnovers.