Patriots Stage Huge Comeback to Stomp Broncos in Overtime Game

New England rallies from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat Denver 34-31

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Even before the game, the headlines were blaring. It was billed as a battle of two legendary quarterbacks, the 14th meeting between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But Sunday night’s showdown between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots turned out to be one of the wildest games for both teams in recent memory, with the Pats overcoming a 24-point deficit on their home turf to win 34-31.

The Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half following three Patriots turnovers, but New England came storming back in the second half — the largest comeback in franchise history. After the Patriots scored 31 unanswered points, Manning rallied the Broncos to tie the game.

After winning the overtime coin toss, New England coach Bill Belichick decided to kick off the ball and chose which end zone to defend. He chose to keep the wind at his team’s back — a strategic choice given the 20+ mile-per-hour gusts that plagued Foxboro, Mass. Sunday night — but would give the Broncos the first shot to win the game.

Belichick’s gamble paid off, as both teams traded punts and the game seemed like it might end in overtime. On the final Patriots punt, the ball hit Denver’s Tony Carter and New England recovered, setting up the game-winning field goal. In the battle of the quarterbacks, Brady threw for 344 yards, while Manning had one of his worst games of the season, throwing for only 150 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

So when will the teams meet again, hopefully in an equally thrilling game for both fans and players? Well, the playoffs seems like a pretty sure bet.

[Sports Illustrated]