RECAP: New England at Denver

Ian Logue
October 28, 2001 at 8:50 pm ET

DENVER, CO — It appears Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn’t perfect after all.

The 2nd-year quarterback came into Sunday’s game having not thrown an interception since taking over for Drew Bledsoe who went down with a chest injury in Week 2, but while trailing 24-20 in the fourth quarter Brady threw 4 picks, one of which was returned by Denard Walker 39-yards for a touchdown with 2:24 remaining in the game which ended any comeback hopes for the Patriots and sealed the victory for Denver.

New England had little success running the football on Sunday, with runningback Antowain Smith finishing the afternoon with 12-carries for 56-yards. He carried the football only 5 times during the first half, and that was largely in part to the fact that Brady was on the money early in the game. Brady missed only three attempts in the first half of play, completing 13-of-16 for 119-yards and 2-touchdowns. He went into the locker room with his team leading 17-10 at halftime and appeared to be as calm and cool as ever despite playing in a very hostile stadium.

But in the third quarter Denver grabbed the momentum on a touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Griese to Dwane Carswell which gave the Broncos a 24-20 advantage. Denver lead at that point for the first time in the game, and all of a sudden the crowd came alive and began making so much noise that the television cameras at Invesco Field shook.

Undaunted Brady appeared to be up to the challenge of answering the Broncos touchdown. He stepped onto the field and marched his team from their own 22-yard line all the way to the Denver 8. But while facing a third and seven, center Damien Woody was flagged for a false start, backing the Patriots up 5-yards. On their next play Brady found himself under pressure and tried to hit wide receiver Troy Brown in the back of the endzone, but the pass was picked off by Denard Walker and ended New England’s drive.

And at that point it began to get very loud at Invesco Field.

New England’s defense was able to force Denver to punt, and Brady had the ball again at his own 23-yard line. However while facing a 3rd-and-3, he again threw an interception, this time to Deltha O’Neal at the Broncos 19-yard line.

And it began to get even louder.

On the Patriots next possession they began at their own 9-yard line following a personal foul penalty on linebacker Matt Chatham. Brady then threw an 8 and 9 yard strike to receiver David Patten, but then he hit Broncos defensive back Denard Walker right in the numbers, and Walker ran it back 39-yards for a touchdown and gave them a comfortable 31-20 lead with 2:24 remaining in the game.

At that point the crowd knew their team was in control of the game, and unfortunately for Brady there would be no comeback. He would take the field for one more time to try and pull off some sort of miracle, but he found himself picked off again by Deltha O’Neal, and the Broncos ran out the clock.

Brady finished the day 25-of-38 for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and did start the game the way he had left off in his previous starts.

New England took a 3-0 lead on their first possession of the game after Brady marched them 74-yards on 10 plays and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 24-yard field goal.

On their next possession Brady hit Troy Brown on an 18-yard pass play, but a face mask penalty on Denver helped set up a 30-yard touchdown strike from Brady to wide receiver David Patten to give New England a 10-0 advantage.

Denver came right back, marching 80-yards on 7-plays including a 47-yard grab by Rod Smith and a 20-yard catch by tight end Desmond Clark. Mike Anderson capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run and the lead was cut to 10-7.

The Broncos got a turnover following another pass attempt on a trick play from David Patten to wide receiver Charles Johnson that was picked off by Eric Brown at the Denver 2-yard line. The play helped set up a 17-play drive that ended in a game-tying 50-yard field goal by Broncos kicker Jason Elam.

New England went three and out on their next possession, but on Denver’s first play from scrimmage linebacker Tedy Bruschi picked off Brian Griese. Bruschi then attempted to run the ball back and fumbled it, but after Brian Griese recovered it, the ball again came loose and the Patriots came away with it.

Three plays later Brady found Troy Brown all alone in the endzone for a touchdown, giving New England a 17-10 advantage before the half. Brown lead all receivers with 9-catches for 86-yards, while David Patten was second on the team with 5-grabs and 62-yards receiving.