Final in overtime, Patriots 34-31: And after all that, the Patriots won it on a muffed punt by Tony Carter, recovered by Nate Ebner.
That put the Patriots in field position for Stephen Gostkowski to knock the ball through the uprights to win 34-31.
The Patriots looked like they had absolutely no chance at winning this game. It was even more unlikely than their win over Miami after trailing 17-3 at the half.
But maybe this team is special after all. We’ll have much more on this win here at NESN.com tonight. So call in sick from work and read up all night.
Overtime, 4:28, 31-31: And we’re still tied.
Denver couldn’t get the ball past its 39-yard line and had to punt.
The Patriots are driving timeout-less with just more than four minutes left.
Overtime, 10:15, 31-31: Still tied.
Neither team could stop scoring during regulation. Then, when it really matters, no one can get in the end zone. Or through the uprights.
The refs didn’t throw a flag when Thompkins got mugged on second down. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were both fired up by the non-call. Brady missed Edelman down the sideline on third down.
The Broncos have the ball on their own 13.
Overtime, 12:28, 31-31: Bill Belichick was forced to make some tough decisions. First, he took the wind, rather than the ball (that worked out). Then he took a penalty to make it 3rd-and-14 rather than 4th-and-inches. That worked out, too.
New England has the ball at its own 18-yard line.
End of regulation, 31-31: This one is still all tied up at the end of regulation. The Broncos and Patriots couldn’t get anything going on the final three drives.
The Patriots took the wind. The Broncos will receive. OK.
Fourth quarter, 3:06, 31-31: This one’s all tied up.
It turns out, that Peyton Manning guy is still pretty good, too. Manning had some great passes, but the Patriots had two costly penalties. Aqib Talib was charged with holding, and Rob Ninkovich got hit with pass interference.
The drive ended with a touchdown to Demaryius Thomas over Aqib Talib, who doesn’t look 100 percent on his hip.
The Patriots have 3:06 on the clock to get back ahead.
Fourth quarter, 7:37, Patriots 31-24: The Patriots’ offense could not be stopped, but it was slowed down.
Stephen Gostkowski hit a short field goal to put New England up by a touchdown. Brady missed Gronkowski and Edelman in the end zone.
Brady had 81 yards passing in the field half. He has 302 now. Wow.
Fourth quarter, 12:22, Patriots 28-24: At this rate, the Patriots might win 100-24.
New England’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Julian Edelman added a nice punt return to the end of the drive. The Patriots have the ball at Denver’s 47-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 13:13, Patriots 28-24: The comeback is complete. Brady connected with Gronkowski for 15, then Edelman for the touchdown.
This is absolutely bonkers. There are no words for what Tom Brady is doing right now.
Fourth quarter, 14:32, Broncos 24-21: This is just silly. Downright silly.
Peyton Manning, with Kyle Arrington in his face, chucked the ball into Logan Ryan’s arms. The Patriots have the ball at Denver’s 30.
End third quarter, Broncos 24-21: Whew. That was a pretty insane quarter. Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski all played a huge role. And Tom Brady has been fantastic.
Third quarter, :19, Broncos 24-21: Goodness gracious. The Patriots are right back in this, and the fourth quarter hasn’t even started. This one’s already an all-timer in the Brady-Manning saga.
Rob Gronkowski ended that drive with an exclamatory spike. Julian Edelman had the biggest play of the drive as he got wide open on a double move.
Patriots are down a field goal.
Third quarter, 2:01, Broncos 24-14: You know how after one team plays really crappy in one half, as a fan, sometimes you say to yourself, “Well, that could happen to the other team in the second half?” Well, that’s happening right now. Denver can’t hold the ball or move down the field, and the Patriots are playing possessed.
New England has the ball at its own 35-yard line. The Patriots trail by 10 with 17 minutes left to go.
Third quarter, 5:40, Broncos 24-14: Apparently it is. The Patriots now trail by 10 points after a Brandon Bolden touchdown.
Rob Gronkowski had a huge reception that set up the score. There’s a lot of Patriots fans who are probably sitting in traffic wishing they were back in the cold.
Third quarter, 8:04, Broncos 24-7: Uh, is this really happening? The Patriots just recovered a Montee Ball fumble. New England has the ball in Denver territory, and the Patriots are driving.
Third quarter, 11:21, Broncos 24-7: The Patriots’ offense showed a whole bunch of life. Finally. Kenbrell Thompkins caught three passes, Shane Vereen caught one and Julian Edelman had the last two, including the touchdown.
They’ve got an uphill climb, but I suppose it is possible for the Patriots to win this game.
End half, Broncos 24-0: The ball hit a wind wall and fell at the 10-yard line. The half, and likely the game, is over. Of course, I said that at the half in the Miami game. And the Patriots won that one.
Second quarter, :05, Broncos 24-0: Something good happened for the Patriots. The Broncos muffed the punt return and Marquice Cole recovered it. Ball at Denver’s 42.
Second quarter, :47, Broncos 24-0: The Patriots held the Broncos scoreless on that drive, but now there are 47 seconds left and New England has the ball at its own 13. They need to score here, but it’s an uphill battle.
Second quarter, 3:34, Broncos 24-0: Maybe they’re getting snacks, but I see a lot of the Gillette faithful walking in the aisles. You can’t totally blame them, can you?
The Broncos have the ball at their own 28, and there’s less than four minutes on the clock. New England may already have no chance, but the Patriots will need to score before the half if there any possibility.
Second quarter, 6:10, Broncos 24-0: This one got out of hand and seemingly out of reach very quickly.
New England has its work cut out for them to catch up to a Broncos team that’s just plowing through the Patriots’ defense.
And since New England can’t hold onto the football, that could be difficult.
The Broncos scored on a Jacob Tamme reception. Aqib Talib and Logan Ryan did not start the drive on defense. They were replaced by Dennard and Justin Green, who was just brought off the practice squad.
Second quarter, 10:38, Broncos 17-0: I stopped keeping track of missed opportunities a few minutes ago. But, yeah, there have been a lot for New England.
Shane Vereen had a terrible drop. It looked identical to his drop against Carolina on a wheel route.
The Patriots elected to go for it on 4th-and-5. Brady just missed Amendola. It clanged off the receiver’s hands. That’s one that can be charged to both Brady and Amendola.
The Broncos have the ball on their own 30.
Second quarter, 13:07, Broncos 17-0: We have a game clock! And a Patriots defensive stand.
Brandon Spikes made a huge tackle for loss on second down, then Manning overthrew Eric Decker on third-and-11.
The Patriots have the ball on their own 10.
Update: Never mind. A Denver player voluntarily ran out of bounds. The Broncos will rekick.
Julian Edelman fumbled. Twice. But the Broncos recovered it. The Patriots have the ball at the 21. And everyone’s hearts are racing a little faster. Michael Buchanan recovered the second one.
End first quarter, Broncos 17-0: We’ll just have to take the refs’ word for it that the first quarter is over. The Patriots likely want to hit the reset button after that one. Patriots, your offense. Woof.
First quarter, 1:18, Broncos 17-0: The Patriots’ offense still isn’t looking very good, but hey, at least they didn’t fumble.
New England had to punt. It was a touchback, of course. The clock here isn’t working, which is making things interesting.
First quarter, 2:57, Broncos 17-0: Hey, something went well for New England. Kind of.
The Patriots held Denver to a field goal, but the Broncos ate more than four minutes off the clock. Lots of runs from Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
Chandler Jones got a sack. He has 10 1/2 on the season now.
First quarter, 7:19, Broncos 14-0: It’s getting worse. LeGarrette Blount just coughed up the ball, too. The Patriots challenged the call. It looks like it will be a fumble, but the Broncos will get the ball where Blount coughed it up. Denver will have the ball around midfield.
Update: It is fumble. Broncos have the ball at midfield.
First quarter, 8:54, Broncos 14-0: This one just got a whole lot worse for New England. Tom Brady was strip-sacked, and Knowshon Moreno scored two plays later.
This game has lasted just more than six minutes, and the Broncos already have a 14-0 lead.
First quarter, 9:54, Broncos 7-0: It may be time for Stevan Ridley to sit on the bench. The running back just coughed up the ball. Von Miller picked it up and took it 60 yards for a touchdown.
New England’s offense was moving the ball very well before the fumble. That included some nice carries from Ridley.
First quarter, 13:08: It wasn’t a three-and-out for Denver, but it was four-and-out. Knowshon Moreno got a first down carry on the first play of the game. Then the Patriots did a nice job shutting Denver down.
Alfonzo Dennard and Brandon Spikes did not start. Logan Ryan and Jamie Collins were in their place in a nickel. Kyle Arrington was in the slot over Welker. McCourty was playing safety.
First quarter, 15:00: The Patriots won the toss, chose to defer.
Touchback. And we’re underway.
8:23 p.m.: The Patriots just showed some clips of Wes Welker up on the video board that ended thanking the receiver for six seasons in New England. Both teams have taken the field, and we’re minutes away from the action.
7:37 p.m.: The wind is blowing like crazy out here. It’s coming from the open end of the stadium to the video board. That will be left to right on the TV screen.
Wes Welker has taken the field in full uniform. The only Patriots players in full uniform on the field are the specialists. Stephen Gostkowski was having no problem kicking from left to right, but right to left was very difficult.
Here’s a really blurry picture of Welker:
[tweet https://twitter.com/DougKyedNESN/status/404770109383643137 align=center]
7:05 p.m.: There’s a couple of shockers among the Patriots inactives. First, the good news for New England fans: Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib are active. Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is inactive.
Steve Gregory, Steve Beauharnais, Josh Boyce, Chris Barker, Jake Bequette, Marcus Forston and Michael Hoomanawanui are inactive.
Losing Gregory hurts, but it’s huge to have Talib and Dennard in the lineup with Thomas out.
Champ Bailey, Zac Dysert, Ronnie Hillman, Michael Huff, J.D. Walton and Chris Kuper round out the Broncos’ inactives.
5:43 p.m.: The training and medical staff are working out Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard on the field. Talib was expected to play coming into the night with his hip injury. Dennard was not after getting his meniscus scoped. This puts both players’ status up in the air.
Both players are moving pretty well. Trainer Harold Nash and team doctor Dr. Thomas Gill are watching the two corners.
5:25 p.m.: Just got down to Gillette Stadium, and it’s just as windy and cold as everyone says it is. The doors to my car flew open as soon as I started pushing, and my media credentials nearly flew up and off my neck when I got out. I’m lucky to be up in the warm press box. My fiancee, however, will be braving the cold sitting out in the Gillette Stadium crowd. I’ll have my binoculars set to her to make sure she doesn’t freeze to her seat.
Bovada still has the Broncos as three-point favorites. The weather favors the Patriots, however.
There are Denver players on the field covered up. They look very cold.
8 a.m. ET: No matter how hard the Patriots or Broncos try to pretend this is just another week of football, it’s not.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are set for their 14th head-to-head matchup. And when it’s Peyton and Tom week, as Kyle Arrington put it on Friday, there’s some added pressure around the locker room.
It took a while for the Patriots to get there, but these teams are built similarly. The defenses are talented but have flaws, and the offenses are built for a shootout.
Peyton has Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Knowhon Moreno and Montee Ball. Tom has Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
Both teams will likely put up big points at Gillette Stadium, despite some wickedly cold temperatures. It’s expected to be 21 degrees in Foxboro at 8 p.m., with a windchill of -2, due to 20 mph winds.
For the Patriots, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is the only player ruled out, though Alfonzo Dennard is not expected to play on his injured knee. We’ll find out the rest of the inactives at 7 p.m.
Stay here for all the updates leading up to the most highly anticipated game of the year. It’s going to be a good one.