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Broncos win; Pats still seeking lost title form

©Associated Press
October 28, 2002

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Broncos hope their bye week is better than the one the Patriots just endured.

Denver won 24-16 Sunday over the Super Bowl champs, who went back to the basics during their extra practice time. What can they try next?

"We have lost four games in a row," said a terse Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose postgame remarks lasted 2 minutes, 48 seconds. "It is hard to have confidence."

Denver should have plenty after winning consecutive road games with balanced offense and aggressive defense.

Clinton Portis ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns, Ed McCaffrey caught eight passes for 115 yards and Brian Griese was 18-for-23 for 229 yards and an 8-yard score to Shannon Sharpe.

The league's top-ranked run defense held the Patriots to 179 yards and sacked Tom Brady five times.

The Patriots must win seven of nine to have 10 wins and a realistic playoff shot.

"You win by playing with heart, energy and enthusiasm," said Brady, who was 15-for-29 for 130 yards. "The last four games, it's the other teams that have shown that."

It was the third straight close game for the Broncos after a 24-22 loss to Miami and a 37-34 overtime win at Kansas City.

"After the pounding we've taken the last two weeks, we need the time off," said Portis, a rookie who broke 100 yards for the third time. " ... This is the perfect time for the break so, hopefully, the little bruises recover and we can come back and continue the streak."

The Patriots got within 21-16 on Adam Vinatieri's 26-yard field goal in the third quarter and Brady's 8-yard pass to Christian Fauria on the first play of the fourth. The two-point conversion attempt failed on Brady's incomplete lob to David Patten.

Sharpe caught two passes for 19 yards, but one was a score that put the Broncos on top 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

The Broncos scored on three of their five first-half possessions and turned the ball over on the other two, to cornerback Ty Law on an interception and a fumble.

The second turnover, a fumble by Rod Smith, set up Antowain Smith's 3-yard scoring run midway through the second, cutting Denver's lead to 14-7. Denver wasted little time restoring its 14-point lead as Griese led an eight-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Portis' second touchdown.

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