Patriots rally late, can’t overcome slow start vs. Broncos

Patriots rally late, can’t overcome slow start vs. Broncos
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton drops back to pass against the Denver Broncos in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Steven Senne/AP)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Thirteen days after their last game, the New England Patriots took the field Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium for a contest that seemed to consistently be in doubt. Originally scheduled for last week in Foxborough, the Patriots game against the Denver Broncos was moved to Week 6 after multiple positive COVID-19 tests.

And despite big-name players like Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore returning to practice during the week following their COVID-19 recoveries, three players being added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday added further questions to the game’s feasibility.

Related: Patriots place 3 more on COVID-IR but Broncos game still on

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However, the Patriots were able to play host to the Broncos on Sunday, with the long layoff impacting both teams’ respective offenses early. Neither side recorded a touchdown in the first three quarters of the contest, but Denver was able to knock down six field goals to New England’s two, as the Broncos upended the Patriots, 18-12.

The Patriots (2-3) were able to rally late and had a chance to win the contest on their final drive of the game. Following a Cam Newton 1-yard touchdown run with 8:33 to go in the fourth quarter, the New England secondary hauled in back-to-back interceptions to vault the Patriots back into striking distance.

A quick field goal four plays after J.C. Jackson intercepted Drew Lock (10-for-24, 189 yards passing) cut the deficit to six for New England. Then, after Jonathan Jones hauled in an interception of his own one play later, Newton and the Patriots drove down the field, looking for the game-winning score.

But on 4th-and-10 from the Denver 24-yard-line, Newton couldn’t connect with WR N’Keal Harry on a pass attempt, turning the ball over on downs to end the contest.

While the Patriots struggled offensively for most of the afternoon, the New England defense kept the team in the contest, six times forcing Denver (2-3) to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. But three turnovers for New England stymied their opportunities on offense earlier in the contest.

Newton (17-for-25, 157 yards passing, 76 yards running) twice was intercepted in the loss, with one coming in each half.

His first turnover came on a deflected pass that was hauled in by a diving DeShawn Williams on New England’s first drive of the day. In the second half, Newton was picked off by Bryce Callahan on the first play of the drive. That turnover came one offensive play after TE Ryan Izzo fumbled at the Denver 42-yard-line, which the Broncos recovered.

New England will return to action next Sunday when they take on the San Fransisco 49ers and former QB Jimmy Garoppolo at home at 4:25 p.m.