Posted: 12:25 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25, 2013
By Matthew Fairburn
Wes Welker decided not the catch the ball, and that was the best thing that happened to the Patriots all night.
Wes Welker didn't catch the ball, but this time he did it by choice.
With the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos tied at 31 and heading toward a tie at the end of overtime, a Patriots punt flew in Welker's direction inside the 20-yard line. At the last second, the former Patriots who dropped a key pass in the team's last Super Bowl, decided not to catch the punt.
It was too late.
The ball bounced and hit Broncos special teamer Tony Carter, and the live ball was picked up by the Patriots. New England set up the field goal, and Stephen Gostskowski knocked through the 32-yard field goal on third down, giving the Patriots a dramatic 34-31 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 12 on Sunday Night Football.
Throughout the night, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady couldn't stop screaming.
With under two minutes to play in the first half, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was screaming. Down 24-0, the Patriots' quarterback had thrown another incomplete pass. His timing was just off. He was frustrated.
In the fourth quarter, Brady was screaming again, but this time it was because he had just completed a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. The touchdown drew the Patriots within three points and was part of the 28 unanswered points New England scored in the second-half of a 34-31 overtime win over the Broncos in Week 12 on Sunday Night Football.
The Patriots needed overtime to beat the Broncos, though. Tied 31-31, Patriots coach Bill Belichick opted to take the win rather than receiver the opening kick of overtime. The decision didn't backfire. A third-down Peyton Manning pass fluttered through the air, died in the win and killed the Broncos' first drive of the extra frame. Brady was left screaming over a missed pass interference call later in overtime as the clock ticked down toward zero.
With a tie looking like a possibility, the Patriots punted the ball a final team, and Welker made the decision that cost Denver the game.
Things looked bleak for the Patriots in the first half, though. New England lost fumbles on its first two drive. Both turnovers resulted in Broncos touchdowns. Von Miller returned the first fumble for a touchdown.
A third lost fumble in the half prevented the Patriots from getting into any rhythm on offense. A game that was supposed to be a showdown between Brady and Peyton Manning was quickly becoming a blowout in which neither quarterback was making an impact.
Everything changed in the second half. Brady opened the half with a touchdown to Julian Edelman. Manning, meanwhile, couldn't get anything going. Constantly adjusting the glove and his throwing hand and feeling uncomfortable in the pocket, Manning struggled for most of the second half, opening the door for Brady and company to creep back into the game.
The fans who fought through the bitter cold at Gillette Stadium were treated to a vintage Brady comeback. After the touchdown to Gronkowski to pull the Patriots within three, Brady connected with Edelman again on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. The touchdown gave the Patriots their first lead of the game and had Brady screaming again. This time, he had company.
Manning didn't go down lightly, though. Down by seven late in the fourth quarter, Manning methodically led the Broncos down the field for a touchdown, his second of the game.
Tom Brady was a fantasy stud, maybe more so than he has been all season. He threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos' biggest fantasy star was running back Knowshon Moreno, who had over 200 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson left the game with a hip injury. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also left the game for the Broncos. He injured his shoulder on a Brady hail mary at the end of the first half.
The Broncos entered the game as 2.5-point favorites, according to Odds Shark. They did not cover the spread.
Sunday, Dec. 1, 1 p.m. ET: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots