Patriots’ defense came through when it counted

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FOXBOROUGH — In a game that featured 65 points, 852 yards of offense, and a pair of quarterbacks headed to the Hall of Fame, it might seem strange to single out the Patriots’ defense.

But after being dealt a tough hand to start the game, the defense kept the league’s top-scoring team in check, an almost-forgotten component in a game that started on Sunday night and didn’t end until Monday morning.

Just when it looked like the Broncos were going to gallop out of Gillette Stadium with a dominant statement win, the Patriots found a way to claw back with a 21-point third quarter, then win the game in overtime.

After falling behind, 24-0, in the second quarter, the Patriots wouldn’t have reclaimed the momentum without keeping the Broncos off the scoreboard. No easy feat against quarterback Peyton Manning and a dangerous fleet of receivers, including former Patriot Wes Welker.

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