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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 18 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 20 - 05:55 PM

Patriots return home with miles of smiles



            **Denver –** With one last chance to break the Mile High jinx, New England seized the opportunity and stunned the Denver home crowd with a 28-19 road win.  

For the Patriots first victory of the season, it was one to be shared equally by both the offense and defense.

While Bledsoe and the boys finally broke the 20-point barrier with 28, the defense frustrated Denver as time and again their opportunities to keep the game close were thwarted.



            Things got rather unusual in the third quarter with New England up, 21-3. The Patriots were backed up on their own goal line. Bledsoe had just been slammed by Denver's Al Wilson and Kevin Faulk had run for 2 yards to put the Patriots on the 12-yard line. On the next play, Bledsoe found no one open and was sacked on the goal line. The momentum of the play actually carried Bledsoe into the end zone and the call could have easily been safety.  

That was made moot as on the next play, fourth down, New England chose to have punter Lee Johnson take the snap and step out of the end zone for a safety. The logic can be debated, but New England figured Denver would wind up with three points if the punt was executed, so give them the two and then depend on your defense to stop them after the kick.



            That backfired when Deltha O'Neal took the kick 87 yards for the touchdown return. All of a sudden, Denver was back in the game at 21-11 despite trying and failing the two-point conversion.  

To the Patriots credit, there was no panic despite the swing in momentum and the Denver crowd noise.

On their very next drive, New England took it 77 yards for their fourth touchdown of the day and Bledsoe's fourth touchdown pass. The scoring play went to Glenn from 9 yards out and the big play of the drive went to Troy Brown, a nifty 39-yard catch and run.



            That touchdown, making the score 28-11, pretty much sealed things for New England despite a late 43-yard bomb from Brian Griese to Travis McGriff. Denver completed the two-point conversion to make the final score 28-19.  

Naysayers must have received a good case of whiplash upon looking at the halftime score as New England held a commanding 21-3 lead.

Coming off a leg injury that held him out of action last week, Willie McGinest made the game's first impact play. As Griese dropped back on a first down play during Denver's first possession, McGinest broke in from his right side of the line and blindsided Griese as he set to throw. The ball popped loose and McGinest was credited with the recovery as well.



            From there it took New England four plays, starting at Denver's 29-yard line, to tally the game's first score, an 11-yard pass from Bledsoe to Brown. It was the first of two touchdown's for Brown on the day.  

New England followed up on the early offensive production with a 3-play, 76 yard drive capped off by a 44 yard touchdown reception by Brown. With 7:59 left in the first quarter, the Patriots had jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

It looked liked Denver might cut that score in half when on their next drive they began to march from their own 10-yard line. Most of the production came from Griese to Ed McCaffrey passes. When the Broncos finally got within the New England 8-yard line, they turned the duties over to Terrell Davis. The Patriots defense, though, held tough and forced a 20-yard field goal.



            The Patriots capped off the first half scoring with a fine 9-play, 80-yard drive with 2:27 left. The big play came on a 16-yard pass to Terry Glenn with a 15-yard roughing penalty tacked on to the end. Maa Tanuvasa was caught giving Bledsoe the business after the play and the Patriots had a first and 10 at the Broncos 30.  

After a completion to Eric Bjornson and a 7-yard run by Faulk, J.R.Redmond made his first positive contributions to the offense. The rookie back took a pass to the 12 for 5 yards and then broke away from Bill Romanowski in coverage in the right side of the end zone where Bledsoe found him for the score.



            Earlier in the first half, Bledsoe broke Steve Grogan's all-time Patriots record for passing yards. The play came on a 26-yard screen pass to Faulk. The record stood at 26,886 yards.  

On the day, Bledsoe was 18 for 27 passing for 271 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception.

New England comes back to Foxborough to await the 3-1 Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.

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