FOXBORO, Mass. — No stadium has vexed Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots over the past 17 years quite like Mile High has.
Since Brady became the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2001, New England is just 3-7 at the home of the Denver Broncos. That record includes losses in two AFC Championship Games (2013 and 2015) and another in the 2005 divisional round.
Before last season’s 16-3 win over Trevor Siemian’s offensively inept Broncos, the Patriots had lost in each of their previous three trips to Sports Authority Field and six of their previous seven.
With its usually raucous crowd and its unique location 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver is known for having one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Patriots coach Bill Belichick expects the Broncos faithful to make life difficult for his team again this weekend when New England and Denver clash on “Sunday Night Football.”
“(The Broncos are) a good football team, very good at home, very good in their stadium,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “The fans have a lot of energy. It’s a great crowd, a great football environment, Sunday night. I’m sure that place will be lit up. I feel like we’ll need our best game Sunday night, and that’s what we’re working towards. Hopefully, that’s what we’ll be able to get.”
Asked about the Denver crowd earlier in the week, Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels said he’s more concerned about the Broncos’ defense, which ranks among the NFL’s best even after its 51-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
“Well, from our perspective, the defense is the most challenging part,” McDaniels said in a conference call. “That’s an exceptional unit that’s been exceptional for a number of years. We know that that’s who we’re playing against. You play against the opponent, not the crowd or the weather or anything like that.
“But, like all road stadiums and road games, you have to deal with noise on the road there, and you’ve got to do a good job of handling your snap count and not creating penalties for yourselves and putting yourself in long-yardage situations. Obviously, playing well is what matters.”
Denver’s downfall over the past two seasons has been its offense — and, more specifically, its quarterback play. Siemian was benched last month after throwing 10 interceptions in seven games, and the Broncos have elected to roll with the embattled Brock Osweiler this Sunday even after his lackluster performance in Philadelphia.
Awful opposing QBs have been the constant in each of Brady’s three road wins in Denver. He beat Danny Kanell in 2003, Tim Tebow in 2011 and Siemian last December.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images