Final, Broncos 18-12: A final New England Patriots drive that featured two completions by wide receiver Julian Edelman failed to reach the end zone.
The Denver Broncos brought pressure on fourth-and-10, and Cam Newton’s pass to N’Keal Harry fell incomplete.
Newton struggled in his first game back from the reserve/COVID-19 list (17 of 25, 157 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions) and the Patriots looked very much like a team that had practiced just twice in the last two weeks.
The loss drops New England to 2-3 on the season. It’s the first time the Patriots have been below .500 in October since 2002.
Next up: a matchup with Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Fourth quarter, 3:09, Broncos 18-12: Drew Lock strikes again!
On his very next play, the Broncos QB threw deep into double coverage, resulting in a Jonathan Jones interception.
Denver’s offense is imploding. Can New England capitalize?
Fourth quarter, 3:23, Broncos 18-12:The Patriots now trail by just six after a huge play by J.C. Jackson — and a major mistake by Drew Lock.
Lock threw a pass directly to Jackson on third down, handing the ball back to the Patriots at Denver’s 25-yard line. A 38-yard Nick Folk field goal cut New England’s deficit to six.
Fourth quarter, 8:31, Broncos 18-9: Hey, there’s the Patriots’ offense.
Desperately needing a touchdown, Cam Newton swiftly moved the Patriots down the field, connecting with Damiere Byrd for 19 yards before taking off on a 38-yard scamper.
That run — Newton’s longest of the season — gave the Patriots the ball on Denver’s 7-yard line. Two plays later, Newton plunged over the goal line from 1 yard out.
New England’s two-point conversion failed, however, so this remains a two-score game.
Fourth quarter, 11:54, Broncos 18-3: The Patriots’ defense has been much stingier in these last few minutes, forcing back-to-back three-and-outs and the Broncos’ first punt of the contest.
But New England’s offense remains stuck in the mud. After Denver’s punt, the Patriots quickly went three-and-out, punting on fourth-and-1 from their own 17.
Cam Newton and Co. are running out of time here.
Third quarter, 0:28, Broncos 18-3: This disaster of a day just keeps getting worse for the Patriots’ offense.
On the first play of New England’s latest possession, Cam Newton fired a pass that was tipped by a linebacker, sailed well behind wide receiver N’Keal Harry and landed in the arms of cornerback Bryce Callahan for Newton’s second interception of the game.
It was Harry’s first target of the game.
Third quarter, 0:37, Broncos 18-3: New England’s defense forced its first three-and-out of the game, but Denver still managed to tack on another field goal — the sixth of the day for Brandon McManus.
Third quarter, 2:08, Broncos 15-3: The Patriots’ longest offensive play of the afternoon resulted in a fumble.
Ryan Izzo coughed it up after picking up 17 yards on third-and-3.
Very little has gone right for the Patriots’ offense in this game.
Third quarter, 3:32, Broncos 15-3: Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Broncos drove deep into Patriots territory but had to settle for a field goal.
A 35-yard completion to Tim Patrick on third-and-21 and a questionable holding call on Stephon Gilmore in the end zone set Denver up with a first down inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line. New England’s defense held once again.
Now, the Patriots need some points.
Third quarter, 12:39, Broncos 12-3: The Patriots’ first drive of the second half nearly ended in disaster.
Edge rusher Bradley Chubb steamrolled Isaiah Wynn — who’s now back in his usual spot at left tackle — for a strip sack on Cam Newton. A turnover there would have given Denver possession deep in Patriots territory, but Mike Onwenu was able to recover the fumble for New England.
Newton also dove straight into the pile as Onwenu and a Broncos defender fought for the football.
The Patriots punted one play later.
Halftime, Broncos 12-3: Bad news for the Patriots: Denver scored on each of its four first-half possessions.
Good news for the Patriots: Those four scores all were field goals.
John Simon set up the latest with a 13-yard sack of Drew Lock. The Patriots’ banged-up defense has had some real struggles against the run today (5.4 yards allowed per carry), but it’s stiffened in clutch situations.
New England began to move the ball offensively in its final first-half possession. It needs more consistency on that side of the ball in this second half.
Second quarter, 5:20, Broncos 9-3: The Patriots are on the board after a 12-play drive that featured 10-plus-yard completions to Ryan Izzo (12, 10), Isaiah Zuber (16), Damien Harris (14) and Damiere Byrd (12).
An errant shotgun snap forced Cam Newton to take a 15-yard loss on first down, however, and the Patriots couldn’t recover, settling for a 41-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
Second quarter, 12:13, Broncos 9-0: Another worrisome injury for the Patriots, this one to defensive tackle Adam Butler.
Butler is one of just three New England D-tackles active for this game (along with Lawrence Guy and practice squad call-up Nick Thurman), and he’s now in the locker room after receiving on-field medical attention.’
The nature of Butler’s injury wasn’t immediately clear, but he’s been bothered by a shoulder issue in recent weeks. Expect to see more of defensive end Deatrich Wise if Butler cannot return.
Denver drove into the red zone thanks to a 27-yard reception by tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on third-and-8 but had to settle for another Brandon McManus field goal after two throws into the end zone fell incomplete.
Okwuegbunam, who already has been targeted five times in this first half, beat fellow rookie Kyle Dugger for his big gain.
First quarter, 3:07, Broncos 6-0: The Patriots have lost yet another offensive lineman.
Right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor crumpled to the turf in serious pain after Cam Newton took a sack and landed on Eluemunor’s lower right leg.
Eluemunor had to be helped off the field. Hjalte Froholdt now is in the game at right guard, with Mike Onwenu shifting over to tackle.
The Patriots currently don’t have a single O-lineman playing the same position he played in Week 1.
First quarter, 8:05, Broncos 6-0: The Broncos tacked on another field goal thanks to a remarkably athletic play by DeShawn Williams.
On third-and-2, Cam Newton tried to toss a swing pass to James White but had the ball deflected by Shelby Harris. Williams, who’s listed at 6-foot-1, 292 pounds, swooped in to make a diving interception.
Harris badly beat Isaiah Wynn, who’s playing guard for the first time at the NFL level.
The ensuing Denver drive stalled after Drew Lock fired incomplete to Albert Okwuebugnam on third down, with Jonathan Jones again providing blanket coverage.
First quarter, 13:02, Broncos 3-0: A 41-yard completion to Tim Patrick on the game’s second play quickly put the Broncos within striking distance, but tight coverage by Jonathan Jones on back-to-back plays forced Denver to settle for a 45-yard Brandon McManus field goal.
Patrick beat Jason McCourty, who got the start at cornerback over J.C. Jackson after primarily playing safety in Week 4.
Jones initially was penalized for defensive pass interference against tight end Albert Okwuegbunam in the end zone, but officials picked up the flag.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Patriots won the opening coin toss and deferred. They’ll play defense first.
12:38 p.m.: Some observations from warmups:
11:32 a.m.: Here are today’s Patriots inactives:
— Jarrett Stidham is the Patriots’ new backup quarterback.
— J.J. Taylor sits down after being active but not playing a snap in Week 4. The Patriots will roll with Damien Harris, James White and Rex Burkhead at running back.
— Dalton Keene is a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. The third-round draft pick has yet to make his NFL debut.
— Carl Davis joined the Patriots this week (signed off the Jaguars’ practice squad) and has yet to practice with the team. It’s no surprise he’s inactive.
New England will be light up front with just three active defensive tackles, including practice squad call-up Nick Thurman, who takes the place of Byron Cowart (reserve/COVID-19 list).
— Receiver Julian Edelman, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and defensive tackle Adam Butler are active after being listed as questionable.
— Wideout Jakobi Meyers draws back into the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch against Kansas City. New England has six wideouts active today: Edelman, Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Meyers and promoted practice squadder Isaiah Zuber.
— Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Rashod Berry is active for the first time after being elevated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement.
Berry primarily played tight end at Ohio State, but the Patriots have used him on defense since the start of training camp. He’ll fill Derek Rivers’ spot as a reserve edge rusher.
— Offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch draws into the lineup for the first time after being elevated from the practice squad. The veteran has appeared in 35 NFL games — including 16 starts at right guard for Tampa Bay in 2018 — but this will be his first time donning a Patriots uniform.
— Here are Denver’s inactives, many of which already had been confirmed:
10:58 a.m.: With Cam Newton back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer likely will be inactive today.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, Hoyer looks like the more likely candidate.
Hoyer started against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 but was benched for Stidham late in the third quarter. Neither quarterback was overly impressive — each committed two turnovers, and Stidham completed just 5 of 13 passes — but Hoyer’s two red-zone blunders were unforgivable, especially for a player with his experience.
The Patriots also have top cornerback Stephon Gilmore back following a COVID-related absence. Thanks to the rescheduling, Gilmore wound up not missing a game after testing positive two weeks ago.
10:35 a.m.: We’ll have a close eye on the Patriots’ offensive line in pregame warmups.
With Shaq Mason and James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list and David Andrews still on injured reserve, the Patriots will debut yet another O-line combination today.
We could see second-year pro Hjalte Froholdt make his first NFL start, either at center or at guard, depending on where the Patriots want to deploy Joe Thuney. New England also could bump Jermaine Eluemunor inside and stick with Justin Herron at right tackle, keeping Froholdt on the bench.
Froholdt has yet to play an offensive snap in a regular-season game.
Left tackle Isaiah Wynn also is questionable with a calf injury. Lot of uncertainty today for this unit, which has impressed so far this season.
9 a.m. ET: Greetings from Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots are (finally) preparing to host the Denver Broncos this afternoon.
This game originally was scheduled for last Sunday, but it was postponed twice after multiple Patriots players tested positive for COVID-19.
Three additional New England players — running back Sony Michel, guard Shaq Mason and outside linebacker Derek Rivers — landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday afternoon. But those have not prompted a third rescheduling.
Patriots defensive tackle Byron Cowart and backup O-lineman James Ferentz also are on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will be unavailable today.
New England called up reinforcements from the practice squad, elevating wide receiver Isaiah Zuber, defensive tackle Nick Thurman, outside linebacker Rashod Berry and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch for today’s game.
The Broncos have no players on the COVID list — though their running backs coach did not make the trip after testing positive on Saturday — but have ruled out tight end Noah Fant, running back Melvin Gordon, wide receiver KJ Hamler and linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.
Denver quarterback Drew Lock — who is expected to play today after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury — will need to rely heavily on running back Phillip Lindsay and wideouts Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick against a Patriots defense that surrendered just 19 points to Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. Clink the link below to read our full preview, and along here throughout the day up-to-the-minute pre- and in-game coverage.