(The Sports Xchange) - Recognizing the run play that was called likely would go nowhere against the New England Patriots’ defensive alignment, Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler audibled to a different one. The result was electric.
Running back C.J. Anderson broke loose through the snow for a game-winning, 48-yard touchdown run, and the Broncos rallied to beat New England 30-24 in overtime Sunday night, handing the Patriots their first loss of the season.
“The run that we had called was no good,” Osweiler said. “I just checked to the second play. It was a check we had worked on in practice all week. Our line did a hell of a job, and C.J. did the rest.”
Denver’s defense set up the Broncos’ final drive by stopping quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots (10-1) on the first possession of overtime.
Anderson shook free from a couple of Patriots defenders en route to the decisive score.
“We needed a big play to try to bring this game home,” said Denver wide receiver Andre Caldwell, who caught a key touchdown pass from Osweiler in the final minutes of regulation. “When I saw him in the open field, I knew he was gone. And the fans went crazy. That was the wildest I’ve seen this place in a long time.”
Osweiler, making his second career start in place of injured Peyton Manning, was 23 of 42 for 270 yards with a touchdown pass. He was intercepted once.
Brady completed 23 of 42 for 280 yards, connecting with running back Brandon Bolden and tight ends Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski for touchdowns. Gronkowski (six catches, 88 yards) took a hard hit trying to make a catch with just under three minutes remaining and was carted off the field with a knee injury.
“We’ll keep fighting,” Brady said. “We lost tonight, it was tough game, come on the road, we had a good lead. We just didn’t make a couple of plays in the fourth quarter. It’s tough to win, and when you lose good players, it hurts. It always hurts to lose. We had plenty of opportunities to win, and we’ll try to get back to work this week.”
Osweiler gave Denver (9-2) its first lead of the night, 24-21, when he completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Caldwell with 1:09 remaining in regulation.
That was enough time for Brady to drive the Patriots to Denver 29-yard line. As time expired, kicker Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 47-yard field amidst the snow flurries to send the game into overtime.
“It was a great drive,” Brady said. “A lot of guys made good plays. Steve made a great kick. I was glad we had a chance. ... It just wasn’t our night.”
New England appeared to gain control of the game when Brady lofted a pass downfield to Bolden, who slipped past a tackler at about the 30 to turn it into a 63-yard catch and run for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Patriots led 21-7.
A special teams mistake got Denver back in the game. Chris Harper fumbled a punt, and Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett recovered at the New England 36. That led to Anderson’s 15-yard touchdown run, which pulled Denver within 21-14 with 12:34 remaining. Anderson finished with 15 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Osweiler drove the Broncos to the Patriots’ 3-yard line, but after a third-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone, Brandon McManus came on to kick a 21-yard field goal with 6:12 to play, setting the stage for a frenetic finish.
Denver wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had six receptions for 113 yards.
The Broncos fell behind 14-0 before they put together a long drive that running back Ronnie Hillman finished with a 19-yard touchdown run to pull within seven at the half. Osweiler kept the drive alive with a 3-yard sneak on a fourth-and-1 play.
New England forced a three-and-out on Denver’s opening possession and found itself with a short field when Britton Colquitt’s punt traveled only 25 yards to the Broncos’ 47. Brady went 4-for-4 on the drive, the last a 23-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski, who eluded a pair of defenders en route to the end zone.
The Patriots’ second touchdown drive began at the Broncos’ 15-yard line after defensive end Chandler Jones intercepted a pass just beyond the line of scrimmage after Osweiler was hit by defensive end Jabaal Sheard as he released the ball.
Chandler found an opening between two defenders, and Brady connected with him from 9 yards out for the score.
Editing by Peter Rutherford