PASS-ING THE TESTPatrick Pass had the most productive game of his career, gaining a total of 153 yards from scrimmage, nearly three times his previous career high in that category. His previous single-game career high had been 57 yards from scrimmage, a mark achieved last season against St. Louis (11/07/04). Against Denver, Pass set career highs with 89 receiving yards (which led all Patriots receivers) and 64 rushing yards (which led all Patriots rushers), besting his old career-highs of 55 receiving yards (San Diego, 10/02/05) and 39 rushing yards (Cincinnati, 11/19/00). He also set a career-long with a 39-yard reception, scored his second touchdown in as many weeks, and recorded the second longest run of his career (17 yards) on third down in the fourth quarter, setting up a Tom Brady-to-David Givens touchdown on the next play that cut the deficit to 28-20.
Patrick Pass scored his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks, seeing the end zone from eight yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. Against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 9, Pass scored his first career rushing touchdown on a 6-yard run in the first quarter. Today's score was Pass' second career rushing touchdown and his third overall career touchdown. He also scored on a 23-yard reception against Miami at Foxboro Stadium on Dec. 23, 2001.
The Patriots scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to cut a 28-3 deficit to 28-20, but could not finish off their comeback bid. New England was attempting a 25-point comeback, which would have been the biggest comeback of the Bill Belichick era in Foxboro. The team's largest comeback under Belichick's direction came on Nov. 10, 2002, when New England defeated the Chicago Bears, 33-30, after trailing by 21 points midway through the third quarter. In that game, the Patriots trailed 27-6 with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter and scored 27 of the game's final 30 points to defeat the Bears.
GIVENS SCORESDavid Givens scored his first touchdown of the season on an 8-yard grab from Tom Brady to cut the deficit to 28-20 with 8:08 left in the game. The touchdown was the 11th scoring reception of Givens' four-year career and the 108th scoring pass of Brady's six-year career. Givens became the sixth Patriots player to catch a touchdown pass in 2005, as Brady has distributed his eight touchdown tosses to six different teammates.
FIELD POSITION BATTLEThe Patriots special teams coverage units produced some solid results, as Denver's average drive start was at its own 17-yard line. Three of the Broncos' first four possessions began inside of their own 10-yard line courtesy of long punts by Josh Miller, and two of Denver's first three possessions began inside its own 5-yard line. Miller boomed a season-long 58-yarder at the end of the first quarter and his seven punts averaged 51.6 net yards and 47.6 gross yards. New England allowed the Broncos only eight punt return yards all game.
Willie McGinest and Dan Klecko combined to sack Jake Plummer for an 8-yard loss on third-and-eight in the second quarter. The sack forced a Broncos punt on the next play, after Denver's previous two possessions ended in touchdowns. McGinest ranks third on the Patriots' all-time sacks list with 74.5 career sacks, five sacks behind Julius Adams' 79.5 career sacks. Andre Tippett holds the Patriots record with 100.0 career sacks. For Klecko, today's shared sack gives him 2.0 career sacks.
TOUGH STRETCHThe Patriots enter their bye week after playing five straight games against teams with records of .500 or better, four of which came on the road. Additionally, the Broncos game concluded a stretch of four straight games against 2004 division champions, three of which came away from Foxborough.
Deion Branch had seven receptions, tying him with David Givens for the team lead. The Denver game marked the fourth time in six games this season that Branch has had seven or more receptions. Following the Denver game, Branch has 37 receptions on the year, putting him on pace for nearly 98.7 receptions on the season. Branch's career high for receptions in a season is 57, set in 2003.
The Patriots allowed the Broncos to convert just 3-of-11 third downs (27.3 percent). It was New England's second best third-down performance of the season, trailing only a 3-for-13 performance (23.1 percent) at Pittsburgh on Sept. 25.
- Asante Samuel leveled Broncos tight end Jeb Putzier with a big hit to break up a pass on second-and-15 late in the first quarter.
- Tully Banta-Cain downed a Josh Miller punt at the Broncos' 3-yard line following the Patriots' first offensive possession of the game.
Adam Vinatieri booted a pair of field goals today and is 7-for-8 in his three career games at Invesco Field. His only miss at the stadium was on a 53-yarder near the end of the first half.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES STREAK
Kicker Adam Vinatieri played in his 150th consecutive game and has never missed a game since joining the Patriots as an undrafted free agent prior to the 1996 season. Vinatieri's consecutive games streak is the third longest in team history, just two games behind kicker-receiver Gino Cappelletti, who ranks second on the list with 152 consecutive games played from 1960-70. Cornerback Raymond Clayborn holds the Patriots' all-time record with 161 consecutive games played from 1977-87.