The New England Patriots overcame three first-quarter fumbles and mounted 28 straight points en route to a comeback victory in overtime over the Denver Broncos, 34-31. What looked like a blowout in the first half quickly turned around in the second half, but the Pats needed almost all of overtime before recovering a live-ball deep in Broncos territory that set up an easy game-winning kick for Stephen Gostkowski.
The Pats started sloppy and played one of their worst opening halves in Bill Belichick's career. On their opening drive, Stevan Ridley's third fumble in three games, and fourth of the season, was taken back 60 yards by Von Miller to open the scoring and give Denver a 7-0 lead.
That was just the start of the Patriots' fumble problems.
On the Patriots' next possession Miller strip-sacked Brady and set the Broncos up on the Pats' 10-yard line. Knowshon Moreno would take finish it off two plays later to give the Broncos an early 14-0 lead.
LeGarrette Blount would cough the ball up on the very next possession, making the Patriots the first team since 2007 to lose three fumbles in the first quarter. The Pats defense would hold the Broncos to a field goal, but extending their lead to 17 points.
After some back-and-forth, the Broncos put together an impressive drive that picked up a first down with a screen pass on third-and-20. Manning picked up his first passing TD of the game, capping the drive with a strike to Jacob Tamme and giving the Broncos a 24-0 lead.
The Broncos leaned heavily on Knowshon Moreno and had big success running the ball, he had 224 yards rushing in the game. With the Patriots' turnovers and freezing weather, the game played perfectly into the Broncos hands and they exploited the depleted run defense of New England.
The Patriots took to the air on the opening drive of the second half and found success. They traveled 88 yards on eight plays and Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman in the back of the end zone to give the Pats their first points of the night.
Monte Ball would fumble on the Broncos' next possession and the Pats would recover and make them pay. Brandon Bolden would take the ball in from the one-yard line to cut the Broncos' lead to 24-14.
The Patriots would force a punt on the next Broncos possession and it would take them just five plays to score a touchdown and close the lead to just three points. Tom Brady fired a bullet to Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the end zone.
The second half would continue to be all Patriots as Logan Ryan intercepted Manning on the next possession, setting up Tom Brady's 14-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. That gave the Pats their first lead of the game after 28 unanswered points.
They add a field goal with 7:37 remaining in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to seven at 31-24.
The Broncos would stop the bleeding on their next drive, tying the game with 3:06 remaining on a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. It was an impressive drive by Denver, who had been shutout in the second half until that point.
Both defenses would get stops at the end of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
The defensive stalemate continued into overtime, with each team being stopped twice. The deciding play came on the Pats' second overtime punt, when former-Patriot Tony Carter inadvertently touched the live ball and New England's Nate Ebner fell on it and recovered.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winner three plays later, moving the Pats to 8-3 on the season and putting them back into the hunt for a playoff bye.