Keys to comeback: Patriots 34, Broncos 31

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
1:14
AM ET
Besides the fumble at game's end, what were the keys to the biggest come-from-behind win in New England Patriots history?

Brady’s short game



Patriots quarterback Tom Brady excelled with his short passes. He completed 20 of 24 throws that traveled 10 yards or less in the second half for 161 yards. He had five incompletions on 15 such throws in the first half.

All three of Brady’s touchdown passes came on throws of that length.

Brady has now thrown for eight touchdowns and only one interception in his past three games.

Brady was 13-for-17 when throwing to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman in the second half. Gronkowski now has a touchdown reception in each of his past three games and eight of his past 10.

The Patriots had 134 total yards and seven first downs at halftime. They had 177 total yards and 12 first downs in their 21-point third quarter alone.

Manning uncomfortable

Peyton Manning was uncomfortable with the pressure of the Patriots defense. He went 0-for-6 with an interception when throwing under duress. Five of those incompletions, including the interception, came in the second half.

Manning finished with 150 passing yards, his first sub-200-yard game with the Broncos.

That made Denver entirely reliant on its run game, which worked well often (Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards, the most by a Broncos player since Clinton Portis ran for 228 against the Cardinals in 2002), but not often enough.

The Broncos had eight drives in the second half, seven of which resulted in a punt or turnover. The average drive started at the Broncos 19-yard line, lasted six plays and gained 26 yards.

The Broncos ran one offensive play that gained at least 20 yards. That's a season low.

Manning was previously 6-0 when his team led by at least 24 points at halftime. Each of the six wins was by at least 24 points.

Coincidentally …



The last time the Patriots trailed a game by at least 24 points at halftime while being shut out was in Week 12 of the 1996 season against none other than the Broncos.

The Broncos entered that day 9-1 and the Patriots entered 7-3, just as these teams were for this game.

The difference on that day was that John Elway & Co. were never challenged by Drew Bledsoe. The Broncos would win in a 34-8 rout.

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