Broncos vs. Patriots: The 5 Biggest Stories of the First Half for New England

Matt KingFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2011

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after throwing a touchdown to Chad Ochocinco #85 in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are riding a five-game winning streak and playing some of their best ball of the season, but this week they ran into another super-hot team in the Denver Broncos, who have won six straight games themselves.

The story of the game coming in was whether Denver's immovable defense could stop Tom Brady and the potent Pats offense and if Tim Tebow could move the ball early on against New England's porous defense.

So far, both of those things have been true. It's been a shootout in the first half, with the Patriots going up 27-16 going into halftime. Here are the biggest stories of the half so far.

Ochocinco Finally Shows Up

The enigmatic wide receiver finally did something. He caught his first touchdown pass as a Patriot for New England's first score of the game to answer Denver's touchdown drive to open the game.

Quick Strike

The Patriots took just five plays and two big passes from Tom Brady to score their first drive of the game. A big blow to the tough Denver defense.

Rough Defensive First Quarter

In the first quarter of the game, Denver had 11 first downs and only two forced third downs, both of which they converted. They also gave up 167 rushing yards in that first quarter, by far the most the Pats have given up in a first quarter under Bill Belichick.

No Challenge

Aaron Hernandez looked like he got his hands underneath the ball to catch a touchdown pass midway through the second quarter, but Belichick chose not to challenge and the Patriots took a field goal instead.

Will that play a role in the second half?


The Patriots buckled down on defense in the second quarter, taking the ball away from Denver on fumbles on two consecutive drives.

Stepping up on D may end up being the difference in this game if New England can keep it up.