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Offense in high gear for Pats in Denver

Sports Xchange

DENVER — New England’s special teams gave the Patriots a jump-start and Tom Brady kept it going offensively from there.

Brady passed for three touchdowns and Dion Lewis spearheaded a dazzling special teams performance with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Patriots downed the Denver Broncos 41-16 on Sunday night.

Brady’s first touchdown pass of the night, to running back Rex Burkhead, was set up by Jacob Hollister’s recovery of a muffed punt. Burkhead also blocked a punt to set up one of Stephen Gostkowski’s two field goals.

“Playing from ahead was really important all night,” Brady said. “It’s hard to play this team when you’re behind and they can just tee off on the (pass) rushes.

“Special teams played great and we just tried to hold up our end of the bargain.”

Lewis also ran for a touchdown in helping the Patriots (7-2) win on the road for the 12th straight time. The streak ties a club record and is second in NFL history to the San Francisco 49ers’ record 18-game road winning streak from 1988 to 1990.

The Broncos (3-6) lost their fifth straight since a 3-1 start and struggled offensively to complete drives, settling for Brandon McManus field goals three times in the first half when punching the ball into the end zone would have allowed them to go toe-to-toe with the Patriots.

“Obviously, special teams were a glaring issue but it was all three phases again,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “We were 1-for-4 in the red zone. We moved the ball better tonight but we didn’t score touchdowns. And defensively, they scored on seven straight possessions.”

It was the seventh time in seven years the Patriots and Broncos have met in the regular season. New England won for the sixth time in that span.

“I think everyone is frustrated right now,” said Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was under center in his first stint with the Broncos in November, 2015 when he led them past New England.

“We’ve lost a lot of games in a row. It’s not from a lack of effort, I can say that. But to not see the results on the field, it’s very frustrating.”

Brady completed 25 of 34 passes for 266 yards and led a masterful 16-play, 94-yard drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass to James White early in the fourth quarter, basically quashing any Broncos hopes for a comeback.


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