Patriots practice patience in 34-31 comeback win
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots trailed 24-0. They had to pretend
it was 0-0.
after successful drive, New England chipped away at that halftime
deficit, stopped the NFL's best offense and stunned the Denver Broncos
34-31 in overtime on Sunday night.
Coach Bill Belichick's message to his still-determined players at
to take it as a new ballgame," tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "Don't
think there is going to be a miracle where you can score a touchdown
and it counts as more. So just take it one drive at a time."
Patriots had fumbled the ball on their first three possessions of the
game. But they scored on their first five of the second half for a
That surge stemmed from a simple philosophy.
matter what the score is, just keep going. That should be the motto for
everyone," defensive end Chandler Jones said Monday. "For any team and
not just for our team, any team that saw us play the other night. I'm
pretty sure that there are other players that watched that game and it
just goes to show — don't stop, just keep going."
It helps, of course, to have Tom Brady and his skill at fourth-quarter
In the Patriots' previous game, he got the ball at his 20-yard line
with 59 seconds left and Carolina leading 24-20.
drove them to the Panthers 18, but his pass on the last play was
intercepted in the end zone about 5 yards in front of where Gronkowski
was being bear-hugged by linebacker Luke Kuechly. A penalty flag was
thrown for defensive pass interference, then waved off when the referee
ruled the ball uncatchable.
The Patriots had a successful
comeback four games earlier when they handed the New Orleans Saints one
of their two losses. Brady led a 70-yard drive in just 1:08 to the
winning touchdown with 5 seconds left in a 30-27 win.
December, the Patriots trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-3 midway
through the third quarter, then scored four touchdowns in the next 15
minutes to tie it before losing 41-34.
"One thing we've shown is
that, mentally, we have some toughness. We've been in some bad
situations," Belichick said. "We've been able to hang in there even
when it hasn't always looked great. But, really, I would say that the
season for us is kind of starting now.
"The teams that play well in November, December and January," he said,
"those are the teams that are standing in the end."
in 2010, the Patriots are 25-4 in those months during the regular
season. They have a good chance to make that 30-4 with games remaining
against Houston, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Buffalo — all with
But if those games are close, count on the
Patriots to fight until the final play. That's when their last two
games were decided.
"These games, they come down to the end
almost every week now," defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "You never
know what's going to happen, so it's that whole bend but don't break
mentality of keep fighting, keep after your opponent to pull these wins
out. It's a great way to win."
Even if some unorthodox decisions are made.
Patriots won the overtime coin toss and decided to kick off and force
the Broncos to go into the wind — even if it meant giving Manning and
his potent offense the ball.
"The whole situation was a little
bit confusing," Belichick said, "because when I told the captains that,
there was a little bit of a question of, 'Are you talking about
deferring?' I was like, 'No, we're not deferring. We're taking the
wind, period.' "
Denver reached the New England 37-yard line on
its second overtime series but punted rather than try a long field goal
into the wind.
The Patriots then punted from their 43. The ball
bounced and hit Tony Carter of the Broncos. Nate Ebner pounced on it
for New England at the Denver 13 and Stephen Gostkowski kicked the
winning 31-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime.
"Luckily," Gostkowski said, "we had the wind behind our back on that
shouldn't need any extra help next Sunday when they visit the Texans,
losers of nine straight after winning their first two.
to ride the momentum here of a great victory that we had last night and
just continue to finish through here," Ninkovich said. "We're going to
prepare like we always do and be ready to play the Texans tough."
Patriots Patient In Record Comeback
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