Patriots-Broncos Halftime Report: Cassel & Company in the Lead

Andrew TirrellCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

As the first half of play came to a close at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots held a surprising 20-0 lead over the Denver Broncos

The Patriots' advantage was due in large part to excellent play by the defensive unit, which was beleaguered last week in its matchup with the San Diego Chargers' potent offense.

The New England defense forced four turnovers in the first half, as the Broncos' already banged-up offense tried to recover from first-half injuries to Jay Cutler and Michael Pittman. Denver's replacements for those two offensive leaders, Patrick Ramsey and Andre Hall, were responsible for three of Denver's four turnovers.

Denver added to its demise by several costly unnecessary-roughness penalties committed by its defense, one coming near the Patriot's own end zone during a failed 3rd-and-15 play by New England.

New England's Sammy Morris, filling in for starter Laurence Maroney, who was declared out for the season earlier today, racked up an incredible 138 rushing yards against Denver's league-worst defense in the first half. Matt Cassel passed for 91 yards, hooking up with Randy Moss for a touchdown as the second quarter drew to a close.

The lone concern for New England in the game has been the play of the offensive line, which has allowed five sacks already this game. While the line has been porous, Cassel was particularly susceptible to the sack because of his tendency to hold on to the ball for too long when under pressure.