PLAY OF THE GAME
Situation: Leading, 14-7, the Patriots looked as if they would have to punt and give Denver great field position as they faced third and 14 at their 11-yard line with 3:42 left before halftime.
What happened: In a play similar to a big touchdown against the Bills last week, the Broncos played “two man” — two deep safeties with man coverage underneath. The Patriots ran clear-out patterns, which left running back Danny Woodhead (39) alone one-on-one against slower linebacker Joe Mays (51) on the right side. Tom Brady (12) bought Woodhead some time to shake the initial physical coverage by rolling right as linebacker Von Miller (58) beat right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (76) inside, and right guard Dan Connolly (63) lost leverage against end Derek Wolfe (95). Brady delivered a strike on the run, and Woodhead easily beat Mays for the first down. Instead of punting, the Patriots virtually ran out the half and kicked a field goal to go up, 17-7.
ON HIS GAME
Wes Welker, receiver
Had 13 catches (five tough) for 103 yards and a touchdown, broke three tackles, and had three standout run blocks. Amazing that it took the Broncos until the second half to bracket Welker with another defender.
OFF HIS GAME
Ron Brace, defensive tackle
For the second week in a row, Brace showed little regard for his gap responsibilities, and it hurt the team again. He allowed runs of 8 and 9 yards within three plays in the second quarter and wasn’t seen again, which might continue. Paging Gerard Warren.
Greg A. Bedard