FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If you didn’t see it, you probably wouldn’t believe it.
Down 24-0 at the end of the first half after losing three fumbles in the first 7:34 of the game, the New England Patriots roared back to stun the Denver Broncos 34-31 in overtime Sunday night at frigid Gillette Stadium.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime after a punt miscue by Denver’s Tony Carter.
Ryan Allen’s punt hit Carter when he wasn’t looking, and New England’s Nate Ebner recovered at the Denver 13. Gostkowski then kicked the winner three plays later.
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in the second half, and the New England defense forced two turnovers that led to two touchdowns. The Patriots scored 31 consecutive points to take the lead, then watched Peyton Manning tie it with 3:06 remaining with a classic 80-yard drive.
Denver had the first series of overtime after Patriots Coach Bill Belichick elected to take the wind. After giving up an 18-yard run to Knowshown Moreno, the Patriots’ defense stiffened and forced a punt.
New England took over at its 18 but had to punt after one first down. Each team was stopped once more before decisive muffed punted.
The Patriots took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 80 yards in eight plays, with Brady lobbing a perfect pass to Julian Edelman in the right corner for the touchdown.
Montee Ball fumbled on Denver’s next possession, the ball recovered by New England’s Brandon Spikes at the Broncos 32. Six plays later, Brandon Bolden, playing because Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount lost fumbles in the first half, scored from the 1, and it was suddenly 24-14.
The Broncos punted on their next series, and Brady drove the Patriots 65 yards in five plays, the final one a 6-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Brady completed a 43-yard pass to Edelman on the drive.
It was 24-21 going into the fourth, when Logan Ryan intercepted Manning on the quarter’s second play, giving New England the ball at the Broncos 32. Bolden ran for 1 yard, and Brady passed to Gronkowski for 15, then to Edelman for a 14-yard touchdown. Edelman caught a short pass, escaped a tackle by Chris Harris Jr., then cut back and dove into the end zone with 13:13 left, and the Patriots suddenly had a 28-24 lead.
Gostkowski added a 31-yard field goal on New England’s next drive, but Manning threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 3:06 left. Matt Prater’s PAT kick tied it at 31.
Denver built its 24-0 halftime lead on New England mistakes.
Ridley’s fumble was returned 60 yards for a touchdown by Von Miller.
Brady then was sacked by Miller and fumbled, leading to a 2-yard touchdown run by Moreno, who rushed for 224 yards on 37 carries.
Blount then fumbled, giving the Broncos the ball at the Patriots 44. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Prater.
Denver made it 24-0 with 6:10 left in the first half on a 10-yard pass from Manning to Jacob Tamme.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: