This latest version of Brady vs. Manning was a rout.
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.
“We had some of those plays in the first half that didn’t really go our way,” said Brady, who is 10-4 against Manning. “It was nice to get a good bounce when we needed it.
“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
Brady outdueled Manning, throwing for 344 yards and three TDs, completing 34 of 50 passes. Manning was 19 for 36 for 150 yards with two TD passes.
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.