6 Crucial Points from Patriots’ Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos
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6 Crucial Points from Patriots’ Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots’ Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots' Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos

New England stormed out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter, propelled by strong defensive play, huge offensive plays, and even a special teams touchdown, after a low-scoring first half in which the Broncos and Patriots swapped intermittent plays in Denver on Christmas Eve. Late in the fourth quarter, the Broncos knotted the game as Denver roared back with two lengthy drives, coinciding with when New England’s offence fell quiet.

With the clock ticking down to the last two seconds, the Pats’ defence forced one more stop, giving the offence one more chance. The offence capitalised on the opportunity with a massive third-down pass of 27 yards to DeVante Parker, setting up Chad Ryland for the exciting game-winning field goal. New England won 26–23 because of it.

The most important things to remember from New England’s win in Denver on Christmas Eve are these.


1. An Initial Topsy Turvy: Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots' Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos


On the first play of the game, the Patriots’ season got off to a rough start when quarterback Bailey Zappe was hit and lost the ball. Starting left tackle Vederian Lowe had trouble holding his own block, and it seemed as if James Ferentz, who was playing in his first game of the season after being upgraded to the active roster, was beaten off the snap. Suddenly, Denver found themselves on New England’s six-yard line, seemingly ready to seize the early lead.

After two strong run stops by the Patriots’ defence, it seemed like Mack Wilson had intercepted Russell Wilson on third down, continuing the wild start. The throw was determined to be incomplete after review, leading to a fourth down that Denver coach Sean Payton decided to go for. Despite the Broncos’ RPO, Javonte Williams was unable to complete the pass to the end zone because he was tackled by a teammate just as he received the pass.

A scoreless first quarter ensued when New England regained possession of the ball after a fumble, a near interception, and a fourth-down stop; however, they promptly punted the ball back to Denver without gaining any ground.

2. Big Bronco Punt Return Sets Off First Goal:Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots' Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos


Marvin Mims’ 52-yard punt return provided Denver the spark they needed after both teams failed to generate a first down in five drives. Another game-changing play was given up by the Patriots’ special teams, who have been struggling all season long without Matthew Slater. Mims proved early on why Bill Belichick had singled him out as the game’s top returner last week.

Both teams started the game with run-heavy strategies, but Williams would score the game’s first touchdown five plays later. The Patriots’ offence stalled early on, completing just seven plays over their first three drives, and the errors kept piling up.

3. The Pats Begin:Broncos

After a lacklustre start, the Patriots finally got on the board with a drive that included a 28-yard reception by Jalen Reagor after quarterback Bailey Zappe found Reagor in the sideline coverage hole with a pinpoint ball. With Zappe having been sacked for a loss of 10 yards on the previous play, the huge play arrived at a crucial moment. On the 13-play, 61-yard drive, Ezekiel Elliot was instrumental, gaining 18 yards.

Early in the second quarter, Chad Ryland made a field goal from 33 yards out, increasing the score to 7-3.

On the following drive, Denver responded with a couple of big plays of their own. They marched across midfield in no time at all until Jahlani Tavai, who has been an outstanding playmaker for the team this year, recovered a fumble that had been recovered by Javonte Williams. However, Jeremiah Pharms snatched the ball from the Broncos lineman who had initially looked to have recovered it. Pharms, who was on the practice squad to begin the season, has been a notable performer for the young player this year, earning accolades from defensive line coach Demarcus Covington for an effort play.

Following yet another punt by the Broncos, Zappe and the Patriots’ offence once again put together a strong drive with the clock ticking down in the first half, this time travelling 44 yards, but failing to reach the end zone. After that, Ryland had another chance at the field goal, this time from 47 yards out, but he missed it. Since his freshman year, Ryland has struggled with consistency, and this was his ninth miss. With 22 total attempts, he has made 14 of them.

At the end of the first half, Denver led 7-3 as the Broncos kicked off the second half with a field goal attempt that they missed from 57 yards out.

4. The Intermission Fire:Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots' Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos


Following two games in which the Patriots played well in the first half but faded in the second, they finally got the kind of second-half start they’d been hoping for when they forced a punt and then put together a remarkable touchdown drive. Denver was pushed back 10 yards after a sack by Christian Barmore, which initiated the stop. December has been a banner month for Barmore, who has had an exceptional season overall.

The next drive began with Zappe throwing from the pocket. On the first play, Pop Douglas was targeted for a 41-yard completion, and on the next play, the rookie was targeted for a 13-yard completion; Douglas had 54 yards on his own. The Patriots’ drive was completed two plays later by Zeke Elliot, who caught a swing throw, jumped over a defender, and ran the ball in for the score.

It was Ryland’s first missed extra point of the season, and his troubles continued when he failed to convert. With it, the score in the third quarter became 9-7.

Once again, a spectacular play—this time a 30-yard completion to DeVante Parker—aided New England’s touchdown drive, and the Patriots’ dominant performance continued as they forced two more punts from Denver. Following a successful extra point by Ryland, the score was 16-7 after a five-play, 52-yard drive finished with a touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki in the back of the end zone.

Following Gesicki’s touchdown, the chaos continued on the next kickoff when youngster Marte Mapu recovered a fumble in the end zone and scored again. After an outstanding third quarter of complimentary football in which all three units had a role, New England quickly pulled away to a 23-7 victory. As he continued to set himself up for a successful first season finale, youngster Mapu contributed to a takeaway for the second game in a row.

5. Retaliation by the Broncos

6 Crucial Points from Patriots' Last-Ditch Victory Over Broncos


The Broncos, whose postseason chances were in jeopardy, ran their most impressive drive of the game, a nine-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that was set up in large part by a 47-yard reception by Marvin Mims. By the midpoint of the fourth quarter, Denver had increased the lead to 23-15 after successfully converting a two-point conversion.

Denver kept things exciting until the very end by rushing the ball down the field once more as New England failed to replicate their offensive prowess from the third quarter. With 2:53 remaining in the game, Wilson connected with Brian Johnson for a touchdown pass of 21 yards, and he successfully converted the extra point to tie the score.

Following a last-ditch effort by the Patriots’ defence, the offence had a chance to win the game. Zappe completed a long pass to DeVante Parker, and Ryland, who had previously blown a 56-yard field goal, made up for his earlier errors with the game-winning kick.

The Patriots shown remarkable resiliency in the final minutes of the game and salvaged a crucial victory after almost letting a 16-point lead slip away.

Colts vs. Broncos Comprehensive Highlights from NFL Week 16 6. New England Patriots are 4-11
On Christmas Eve, the Patriots scored a touchdown thanks to a combination of a dominant defensive performance and a collective effort, giving them their fourth victory of the season. Throughout the game, Christian Barmore was a mainstay in the backfield and finished with three sacks. Jahlani Tavai and Jeremiah Pharms had a combined interception, and the defence did a great job of limiting Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offence.

This has been a pattern for the Patriots defence this season, but Zappe and the offence scored numerous scores thanks to some huge plays, and the game was tighter than it needed to be since Chad Ryland missed an extra point and a field goal. Naturally, Ryland delivered the game-winning performance just when they needed it.

Surprisingly, the Patriots’ 2023 season’s finest complementary football game took place in a hostile setting, which has often presented challenges for the New England club, even when they are at their strongest.

Buffalo, who is still in the hunt for the AFC East crown, is beginning to put together a winning streak and will be the Pats’ next opponent. The division championship race might go down to the wire in the last week of the season, given Miami’s speed. Upstate New York is going to be the site of yet another battle for New England, and Buffalo still has a lot to play for.


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