November 26, 2013

Patriots Beat: Another improbable win for New England

The Patriots believed they could come back again.

By Mike Lowe
Staff Writer

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Peyton Manning, left, and his Denver Broncos had it all going their way Sunday night. A 24-0 halftime lead. But somehow it was Tom Brady, right, and the New England Patriots who walked off the field as overtime winners, coming back for a 34-31 victory at Gillette Stadium.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, left, celebrates his touchdown catch with Danny Amendola, center, as Denver Broncos cornerback Quentin Jammer walks by in the third quarter Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

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To a man, the Patriots said their was no panic in the locker room at the half.

No shouting. No finger pointing.

Being down 24-0 to anyone, let alone Manning, is daunting. But the Patriots knew they could do better, that they had to do better.

“Some things don’t need to be said,’’ said defensive stalwart Rob Ninkovich. “Sometimes hot air doesn’t get anything motivated. You just have to look at yourself and say that wasn’t good enough.

“The first half? That’s not us, that’s not how we need to play,’’ he continued. “I think in the second half we made the choice that we had to play Patriot football, and go out there and win the game.’’

Ebner, not accustomed to the media swarm that descended upon his locker, spoke simply of doing his job as well as he could.

The Patriots had been forced to punt on their second possession of overtime. Rookie Ryan Allen nailed a high, long kick with the wind at his back toward former Patriot Wes Welker. As the ball came down, Walker made a motion for his teammates to disperse, that he wasn’t going to catch the ball. It came too late and the ball bounced off Tony Carter.

Ebner dived on it and the Patriots had the ball in position to win.

“Everybody jumped on me pretty quickly, but I was just doing what I’m supposed to do in that situation,’’ he said. “Your instincts take over. I don’t want to make too much of it. I was just covering down on the punts like I always do.

“The punt returner was waving it off. (Patriot) Marquice Cole made a great play, pushing his guy (Carter) into the ball and I was just watching. The ball hit (Carter), I fell on it. Just right place at the right time.’’

It’s more than that, of course. It’s doing your job and believing your teammates will do theirs.

“It comes down to being mentally tough and playing situational football,’’ said Ninkovich. “When you have a close game like that, it comes down to one thing, one mistake, that can cost you the game. Towards the end, they made the mistake and the ball hit one of their players. It gave us the ball close to field-goal range for Stephen. (The ball) goes through the uprights. We win the game.’’

And that’s how they did it.

Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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