And then it wasn’t, stretching deep into overtime before New England’s biggest winning rally in franchise history gave it a 34-31 victory over Denver.
In a game of turnovers in frigid and windy conditions Sunday night, Tom Brady brought the Patriots back from a 24-0 halftime hole created mostly by three lost fumbles. But Peyton Manning and Denver got sloppy in the second half, then Tony Carter had a punt hit him late in OT. New England (8-3) recovered, leading to Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal to win it with 1:56 remaining.
“It was not our best night, glad we won.”
The bitter defeat for the visiting Broncos (9-2) ruined a superb night for running back Knowshon Moreno. He rushed for 224 yards on 37 carries and a touchdown.
“Hated the way that ended, not getting a chance to get our hands on the ball,” Manning said.
Week 12 began when New Orleans (9-2) beat Atlanta (2-9) 17-13 on Thursday night. The Monday night game has San Francisco (6-4) at Washington (3-7).
Idle this week are Seattle (10-1), Cincinnati (7-4), Philadelphia (6-5) and Buffalo (4-7).
PATRIOTS 34, BRONCOS 31
Denver took its big lead as Von Miller returned a fumble 60 yards, and two more fumbles led to Moreno’s TD and Matt Prater’s 27-yard field goal. Manning connected with Jacob Tamme for a 10-yard TD in the second quarter.
Then the Patriots came back. Their TDs came on passes of 5 and 14 yards to Julian Edelman, 6 to Rob Gronkowski, and Brandon Boldin’s 1-yard run.
“We calmed down and played each play one play at a time, we didn’t turn the ball over in the second half,” Edelman said. “We had a lot of turnovers (early), including putting the ball on the ground, myself included.