After an intro where CBS compared implied this game was a historic event on par with the Berlin Wall going down and the Moon Landing, the Patriots started with the ball and went three and out. A HISTORIC PUNT THEN FOLLOWED.
Denver got a little more traction on their first possession but ultimately the same result. After a 3rd and 2 snap was bobbled off Peyton’s forehead, he secured the ball and found time to hit Eric Decker for the game’s opening first down. But after getting slightly into Patriots’ territory, the drive stalled and Peyton missed a receiver along the sideline on a third down.
Tom Brady’s deep pass to Matthew Slater was deflected away on a third down and another epochal three and out was etched into history. After a long screen to get near midfield, the Broncos were faced with another 3rd and long. With the Patriots working hard to eliminate the deep pass, it took Demaryius Thomas blowing past Aqib Talib to get open for a 29 yard gain. Denver got inside the 10 eventually, but had to settle for a 27-yard Prater field goal for the game’s first score.
New England got its opening first down of the game when a Broncos defender tried to jump a sideline pass to Shane Vereen. When he missed, the play went for 24 yards. Dreamboat then missed a wide open deep ball to Edelman, a misfire that Phil Simms somehow attributed to Brady being TOO GOOD of a quarterback. They looked to be closing in on a tying field goal, but Edelman was called for an illegal pick, pushing the Pats back to a 3rd and 20. They only picked up four and instead of Belichick opting for a long field goal in the thin air, the Pats were punting again.
On the next drive, Wes Welker played the Bernard Pollard role and knocked Aqib Talib out of the game. Later in the drive, on a 3rd and 10 from the Patriots’ 39, Peyton either used BATMAN or FAT MAN on the line.
Either way, the handoff to Moreno went for 28 yards. The 15-play, 93-yard drive (tied for Denver’s longest of the season) ended with the game’s first touchdown on a short pass to Jacob Tamme.
Down multiple scores, the Patriots offense looked like it had finally started getting going. They moved back into field goal range with about four minutes to go. The Patriots took their first timeout prior to a third down. Brady started screaming at his teammates for “forcing” him to burn one, only to get sacked on the following play. The Patriots still ended up with a field goal, which is bad for the total output for a half, but still better than they had to show in the first half of the game in November, so it could be worse.
Denver had a chance to make it a two-touchdown lead going into half, but John Fox opted not to try on 4th and 1 inside the New England 20. There was still enough time for Brady to overthrow an open receiver. After that, they were content to burn the clock and so it’s 13-3 at half.