Manning vs. Brady XVI was billed as the game of the week. It was and it wasn’t, depending on your point of view.
The two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks flung the ball around like they were playing in the Arena League, combining for an NFL-record (in non-overtime games) 110 pass attempts, but for all intents and purposes the Patriots dominated the Broncos en route to establishing themselves as the new team to beat in the AFC.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 3, 2014
New England played flawlessly in the second quarter, outscoring the conference champs 24-0.
Gostkowski first got the ball rolling with a 29-yard field goal to cut Denver’s lead to 7-6 and three plays later defensive end Rob Ninkovich intercepted a Peyton Manning pass to give the Pats the ball back on the Broncos’ 10-yard line. Brady then found Julian Edelman from 5 yards out for his first of four touchdown passes on the night.
The tide truly turned when Edelman returned a Britton Colquitt punt 84 yards to bump the Patriots’ lead to 20-7.
Shane Vereen’s 5-yard TD reception was the icing on the cake and New England led the Broncos 27-7 heading into the locker room.
A failed comeback attempt
Manning, who threw for 438 yards in the loss, found Julius Thomas from 18 yards out to cut into New England’s lead at the start of the second half, but later in the third quarter his second INT of the night turned out to be just as costly as the first.
With both of Manning’s turnovers converted into Patriots touchdowns and Brady having his way with the Broncos’ secondary, the end result was never really in doubt.
Huge night for Edelman
Along with capturing a franchise-record fourth return touchdown, Julian moved into the third slot for highest all-time punt return average (12.58), passing Devin Hester along the way.
To go with his highlight reel return, the receiver added 9 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.