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Halftime analysis: Broncos 24, Patriots 0

11.24.13 at 10:05 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — Two quarters are in the books here in frigid Foxboro, and it could not have gone much worse for the Patriots, as New England is down, 24-0 at halftime. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢ The Patriots were unable to get any sort of offensive consistency working — New England had three first-quarter turnovers with fumbles from Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount — which allowed the Broncos to take a quick 17-0 lead. (The Patriots actually ended up with six first-half fumbles.) Brady ended the first half 10-for-16 for 81 yards. Shane Vereen was the lone bright spot for the New England offense with four catches for 32 yards. On the other side of the ball, Peyton Manning was 8-for-14 for 61 yards with one touchdown, while Knowshon Moreno had 18 carries for 107 yards.

‘€¢ It marked the first time the Patriots were held scoreless in the first half since Dec. 24, 2011 against Miami.

‘€¢ To start the game, the Patriots defense opened with Aqib Talib on Demaryius Thomas and Kyle Arrington on Wes Welker. Jamie Collins got the start at linebacker in place of Brandon Spikes, who has struggled as of late with a knee issue. (Spikes entered the game roughly midway through the first quarter.) Denver got one first down, and then had to punt the ball away after a Manning for Welker pass play came up short on third down.

‘€¢ The Patriots were looking very good out of the gate, making it all the way down to the Denver 40 thanks in large part to the running game. (Vereen was able to convert a pair of third-down chances.) Then, Stevan Ridley was popped by Wesley Woodyard on a play up the middle and lost the handle. Von Miller had a 60-yard return to put the Broncos on the board, 7-0 with 9:54 left in the first quarter. It was the fourth lost fumble of the year for Ridley.

‘€¢ Things got even worse for the Patriots on their next two series: on the first series, Marcus Cannon was beaten badly by Miller, who sacked Brady and forced a fumble. A few plays later, Moreno punched it in from two yards out to make it 14-0 with 8:54 left in the first quarter. On the next sequence, Blount — ostensibly getting reps in place of Ridley, who could be seen cooling on the sidelines without his helmet — coughed up the ball. The Broncos couldn’t reach the end zone, but still managed to cash in with a 27-yard field goal with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.

‘€¢ Things went from worse to even worser when Manning and the Broncos went on one of those soul-sucking drives that took 11 plays and 70 yards, consuming 4:28 — it ended with a touchdown pass from Manning to Jacob Tamme to make it 24-0.

‘€¢ To add insult to injury, the 40-second clocks and game clocks went down in the first quarter — they were active early in the second quarter.

‘€¢ Cannon suffered an ankle injury, and his return is questionable, although it’s likely his pride was bruised after Miller spent a large portion of the first half maneuvering around him. Will Svitek then came in at right tackle.

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