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Patriots 31, Broncos 21: Tom Brady gets the better of Peyton Manning

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, two of the biggest rivals in the history of football, put on a show on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, but it was the Pats who came out on top, winning 31-21.

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Patriots 31, Broncos 21: Brady bests Manning

Peyton Manning outperformed arch rival Tom Brady on the stat sheet, but it was the New England Patriots who got the better of Manning and the Denver Broncos, holding into a 31-21 win at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. New England (3-2) is over .500 for the first time since its Week 1 against Tennessee.

New England set a new franchise record with 35 first downs and racked up 444 yards of offense in the process. Brady completed 23-of-31 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown while Wes Welker grabbed 13 passes for 104 yards and a score and Stevan Ridley rushed for 151 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.

Manning finished 31-of-44 with 345 yards and three touchdowns for Denver, which topped 400 total yards. Demaryius Thomas had a monster game with 188 receiving yards on nine catches. Willis McGahee had 51 rushing yards on 14 carries but cost his team dearly in the fourth quarter, dropping an easy pass on third and short and fumbling the ball in Patriots' territory to end the comeback.

New England heads out west to take on the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.


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Patriots Vs. Broncos: New England Leads 31-14

After taking a 17-7 lead into the half, the New England Patriots were looking to build more momentum when the third quarter began. Unfortunately, a three-and-out, sparked by an ill-advised sack on third-down would give the ball over to the Broncos less than a minute and a half into the third quarter.

The Patriots would then stop the Broncos just shy of the fifty-yard-line, forcing a Britton Colquitt punt that would go through the back of the endzone for a touchback.

On their ensuing possession, the Patriots would pick up an incredible first-down conversion on 3rd & 17 with an off-tackle run to Danny Woodhead. This would lead to another successful drive for the New England offense, capped off by a Tom Brady quarterback sneak into the endzone for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

Not long after getting the ball back, Peyton Manning would be stripped by linebacker/defensive end hybrid Rob Ninkovich with the ball being recovered by big Vince Wilfork, setting the Patriots offense up deep inside Denver territory. A few plays later, running back Stevan Ridley would punch it in for a touchdown, securing the Patriots a commanding 31-7 lead.

Peyton would have his say before the quarter came to a close, leading his team down the field in short order, ending with a touchdown pass to Eric Decker. The drive spanned 90 yards in just three minutes.

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Patriots Vs. Broncos: New England Leads 17-7

Less than sixty seconds into the second quarter, the Patriots would see their 7-0 opening frame lead completely wiped away.

On a critical third down play, cornerback Devin McCourty took yet another costly pass interference penalty to set the Broncos up on the Patriots' one-yard line. There would be no argument from the Patriots' sideline as it was probably the most obvious instance of pass interference that I've seen in quite some time. Not once during the play did New Engand's third-year corner ever look back, locate the ball attempt to make a play. He simply got up in the face of the receiver and took him down when the ball arrived. At this point, I'm not sure why McCourty is still being put on the field. Your guess is as good as mine, folks.

On the next play from scrimmage, Peyton Manning would execute a beautiful play-action fake to set up tight end Joel Dreessen all alone in the back of the endzone for a touchdown to tie the game at 7.

Brady and the Pats would follow that up with a tremendously executed drive down the field to regain the lead. Brandon Lloyd would make another important grab to get the ball down inside the one-yard-line of the Broncos. After the Patriots hurried back to the line, reserve tailback Shane Vereen would take it to pay-dirt for a 14-7 New England lead.

The Patriots would drive down the field once again on their next possession before being halted inside the five-yard-line and being forced to kick a field goal. Stephen Gostkowski's extra-point-like field goal was right down the middle, securing the Patriots a 17-7 lead as we entered halftime.

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Patriots Vs. Broncos: New England Up, 7-0, After 1

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. For the thirteenth time in NFL history, two of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation got together to duke it out this Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, MA. Like a heavyweight title fight, expect these two legends to go back and forth all evening.

It would be Manning who got the ball first after his Broncos won the coin toss. Just as no. 18 began to drive his team down the field, defensive back Sterling Moore would force a fumble on young Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas to give the ball to the Patriots. Unfortunately for the 66,000-plus fans in attendance at Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady wasn't able to lead his offense to a score on their first possession, either.

After converting a huge 3rd & 8 in the red zone with a nine-yard pass to former Bronco Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots would score the game's first touchdown. Brady would find an open Wes Welker for an eight-yard score to give New England a 7-0 lead with three minutes to go in the quarter.

As the game's opening quarter came to a close, the Broncos were in the midst of a drive deep into Patriots' territory.

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Aaron Hernandez, Dont'a Hightower out for Patriots

Aaron Hernandez and Dont'a Hightower will miss Sunday's game between Denver and New England, with Knowshon Moreno highlighting the Broncos' inactives.

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Pats Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski questionable

The New England Patriots may be getting tight end Aaron Hernandez back for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. The young star was listed as questionable after practicing on Thursday for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2.

The other tight end in the Patriots' offensive attack, Rob Gronkowski, is also listed as questionable as he battles a hip injury. Gronk was out of practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday.

The Broncos and Patriots are both 2-2 ahead of their Week 5 meeting at Gillette Stadium. The Pats are coming off an impressive win, where they blew out the Buffalo Bills in the second half to win by a convincing, 52-28, score. The Broncos also had a strong performance in Week 4, as they dominating the Oakland Raiders en route to a 37-6 win.

The full injury reports for both teams can be found below.

Patriots

Out

Julian Edelman WR

Steve Gregory S

Questionable

Brandon Bolden RB

Brandon Deaderick DE

Justin Francis DT

Rob Gronkowski TE

Aaron Hernandez TE

Dont'a Hightower LB

Michael Hoomanawanui TE

Logan Mankins G

Nick McDonald OL

Sterling Moore CB

Shane Vereen RB

Sebastian Vollmer OT

Probable

Kyle Love DT

Broncos

Probable

Chris Harris CB

Nate Irving MLB

Chris Kuper G

Tracy Porter CB

Matthew Willis WR

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Aaron Hernandez returns to practice

The New England Patriots' injury report for Thursday has been released, and surprisingly tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to the practice field, the Boston Herald is reporting. This was Hernandez's first practice since suffering a high ankle sprain in New England's Week 2 loss, 20-18, to the Arizona Cardinals. It was initially thought Hernandez would miss four to six weeks with the injury.

Unfortunately, Hernandez's return does not mean he will play in Sunday's contest at the Denver Broncos. Hernandez was seen limping after running drills in individual workouts but was able to stutter-step and plant his feet before turning for the ball. This is a good indication that Hernandez's road to recovery is nearing an end.

Also participating in practice was All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski (hip), who missed Wednesday's practice. Gronkowski was listed as questionable before last Sunday's blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Meanwhile, those players that did not practice were: safety Steve Gregory (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand) and cornerback Ras-I Dowling.

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The Pats are favored over Manning and co.

The New England Patriots are favored at home against the Denver Broncos in their contest on Sunday.

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Tom Brady named AFC Offensive POW

Tom Brady was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after lighting up the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.

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