Patriots-Broncos: New-Look Patriots Overwhelm Hobbled Broncos

Andrew TirrellCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

The New England Patriots left Gillette Stadium with a surprising 41-7 victory over the Denver Broncos in their Monday Night Football contest. 

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

The New England defense forced five turnovers, as the Broncos' already banged-up offense tried to recover from first-half injuries to Jay Cutler and Michael Pittman (Cutler and Pittman both returned to the game). Denver's replacements for those two offensive leaders, Patrick Ramsey and Andre Hall, were responsible for three of Denver's five 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 and one touchdown against Denver's league-worst defense in the first half. But Morris too went down with a leg injury during the game, and most second half rushes went to rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis out of Ole Miss, who ran for 65 yards and a touchdown of his own. 

Matt Cassel passed for 185 yards, hooking up with Randy Moss for two touchdowns and tossing a scoring pass to Wes Welker as well. Cassel was an efficient 18 for 24 passing and avoided allowing any turnovers. Denver's secondary was especially vulnerable after losing star defensive back Champ Bailey to a groin injury in the first half of the game.

The lone concern for New England was the play of the offensive line, which allowed six sacks during the game. While the line was porous at times, Cassel's tendency to hold on to the ball for too long when under pressure made matters worse. Cassel seemed more comfortable throwing the ball away when necessary during the second half, and the Broncos were held to one sack during the third and fourth quarters.

New England improved to 4-2 with the victory and sits a game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC east. Denver still leads the AFC West with a 4-3 record, despite the loss.