The New England Patriots beat an old rival Sunday at Gillette Stadium behind another strong rushing attack.
The Patriots gained over 200 yards on the ground for the second straight week and quarterback Tom Brady threw for 223 yards and a touchdown to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, 31-21.
The win improves the Patriots' record to 3-2 – good enough for sole possession of first place in the AFC East as of Sunday night. The New York Jets (2-2) play the Houston Texans Monday night.
The following is a compilation of game notes submitted by the Patriots Media Relations Department:
PATRIOTS SET TEAM RECORD WITH 35 FIRST DOWNS
The Patriots gained a total of 35 first downs against Denver, marking the highest total in franchise history (793 games). New England had 18 first downs rushing, 16 first downs passing, and one first down by penalty. The previous team record for most first downs in a game was 34, achieved against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 28, 2007. New England's 35 first downs today are the eighth-highest single-game total in NFL history.
PATRIOTS HAVE FIRST BACK-TO-BACK 200-YARD RUSHING GAMES SINCE 1978
The Patriots have had more than 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 1978. Against Denver, New England finished the game with a total of 251 rushing yards on 54 carries. Last week at Buffalo, New England had a total of 247 rushing yards. The last time New England had 200-plus rushing yards in consecutive games was when it followed a 213-yard performance on Dec. 3, 1978 at Dallas with a 249-yard effort against Buffalo on Dec. 10, 1978.
PATRIOTS’ 251 YARDS ON THE GROUND ARE MOST FOR TEAM SINCE 2008
The Patriots had 54 rushes for 251 yards Sunday, recording the franchise’s highest single-game rushing total since having 277 rushing yards in a 49-26 win at Oakland on Dec. 14, 2008.
PATRIOTS’ TWO-GAME TOTAL OF 498 RUSHING YARDS IS MOST FOR TEAM SINCE 1978
The Patriots totaled 251 rushing yards against Denver, and combined with their 247-yard performance last week against Buffalo have totaled 498 rushing yards over a two-week span. It’s the best two-game aggregate rushing total for the team since gaining 519 total rushing yards in a two-game stretch from Oct. 28, 1978 (240 yards vs. N.Y. Jets) to Nov. 5, 1978 (279 yards vs. Buffalo).
PATRIOTS HAVE SEVEN RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS IN LAST TWO GAMES; MOST IN TWO-GAME SPAN IN MORE THAN 30 YEARS
The Patriots have scored seven rushing touchdowns in the last two weeks, scoring three times on the ground against the Broncos to follow up on a four-score performance on the ground last week in Buffalo. It’s the first time since 1978 that the Patriots have had as many as seven rushing touchdowns in a two-game span. New England had eight rushing scores in a two-game span in 1978 when it scored four times on the ground on both Oct. 22, 1978 vs. Miami and on Oct. 29, 1978 vs. the New York Jets.
RIDLEY SETS CAREER HIGH WITH 151 RUSHING YARDS
Stevan Ridley had a career-high 151 rushing yards on 28 carries (5.4 average) and added a touchdown. Ridley’s 151 rushing yards were the highest single-game rushing yardage total by a Patriots player since Dec. 23, 2007, when Laurence Maroney had 156 yards on 14 carries (11.1 avg) in a 28-7 Patriots win over Miami. Ridley’s previous best was the 125 yards he had in the 2012 season opener at Tennessee (Sept. 9).
RIDLEY STARTS STRONG
Stevan Ridley has a total of 490 rushing yards through five games this season, recording the highest total for a Patriots running back through the season’s first five games since Corey Dillon had 522 yards through the first five games of the 2004 season. In 2004, Dillon went on to record a team-record 1,635 rushing yards.
RIDLEY HAS BACK-TO-BACK 100-YARD GAMES
Stevan Ridley had his third 100-yard rushing game of the 2012 season and his first back-to-back 100-yard game after gaining 106 in last week’s at Buffalo. Ridley’s performances mark the first time the Patriots have had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since Laurence Maroney accomplished the feat in 2007.
TWO OF THE BEST, PART I
Sunday’s matchup between starting quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning was only the second time in NFL history that two starting quarterbacks with 125-pluscareer regular-season wins each meet in a game. The previous matchup featured Dan Marino (147) of the Miami Dolphins versus John Elway (148) of the Denver Broncos on Dec. 21, 1998. Following Sunday’s game, Peyton Manning has 143 career victories and Tom Brady has 127 career wins.
TWO OF THE BEST, PART II
Sunday’s game marked the first time in NFL history that two quarterbacks entered a game with more than 300 career touchdown passes. The veteran quarterbacks rank third (Manning, 410) and fifth (Brady, 308) respectively for most touchdown passes in NFL history.
WES WELKER SETS A PERSONAL MARK FOR MOST FIRST HALF RECEPTIONS
Wes Welker had nine catches in the first half, setting a new personal best for most receptions in a first half. Welker’s personal best for most receptions in any half was 10 in the second half against Miami on Dec. 24, 2011. Prior to Sunday, Welker’s previous best for most first half receptions was eight receptions on Nov. 22, 2009 vs. N.Y. Jets and on Dec. 27, 2009 vs. Jacksonville. Terry Glenn set the franchise record with 11 first half receptions at Cleveland (Oct. 3, 1999).
WELKER IS STREAKING
Wes Welker extended his streak to 82 straight regular-season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record. Welker has an overall streak of 99 straight regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins. Welker has caught at least one pass in each of his 89 games with the Patriots, including seven postseason games. The last time that Welker did not catch a pass in a game was Dec. 24, 2005 when he was with Miami.
WELKER HAS 15th CAREER 10-PLUS CATCH GAME
With 13 receptions against Denver, Wes Welker had his 15th career game with 10 or more catches and is now tied with Andre Johnson (15) for the most among active NFL players. Welker’s 15 career 10-plus catch games are tied with Johnson for third all-time in NFL history, behind Jerry Rice (17), and Marvin Harrison (16). Welker has had 13 or more receptions in a game a total of five times.
WELKER HAS THREE STRAIGHT WEEKS WITH 100 YARDS RECEIVING
Welker had 104 receiving yards against Denver, marking his third straight game with more than 100 receiving yards, tying a career long streak. Welker also had streaks of three straight games with 100 yards or more in 2008 and in 2011. The NFL record for most consecutive games with 100 yards or more receiving is 7 by Charley Hennighan (Houston) in 1961 and Michael Irvin (Dallas) in 1995. The Patriots record for most consecutive 100-yard games is four by Randy Moss, who accomplished the feat in 2007.
PATRIOTS ARE FIRST TEAM WITH THREE STRAIGHT GAMES WITH 30 OR MORE FIRST DOWNS SINCE THE 1970 MERGER
The Patriots are the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to have recorded 30 or more first downs in three straight games. The Patriots set a franchise record today with 35 first downs, marking the team’s third straight game with 30 or more first downs. New England also broke the 30 first down mark with 33 at Baltimore (Sept. 23) and 33 at Buffalo (Sept. 30).
WELKER RECEPTION PACE
If Wes Welker reaches 100 receptions in 2012, he will become the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons. Through five games this season, Welker has 38 catches, putting him on pace to total 122 receptions in 2012. Welker’s four seasons with 100 or more receptions ties Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice for the NFL record.
MAYO ON PACE FOR HIGH TACKLE TOTAL
Jerod Mayo had a team-high 13 tackles against Denver, and has a total of 59 tackles through five games in 2012. Mayo is on pace to tally 189 tackles this season, which would mark his fifth straight year with 100 or more tackles. Through the first five games of 2010 Mayo had 65 total tackles en route to an NFL-leading 193 total tackles. Mayo finished the 2011 season with 103 tackles, registering 100 tackles for the fourth straight year. He is the first player in New England history to register 100 tackles in his first four NFL seasons. He is the fifth Patriots player to register at least four consecutive 100 tackle seasons. Mayo has had 10 or more tackles in four of the first five games in 2012.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS CONTINUES FOR BRADY; BRADY MOVES PAST BRETT FAVRE (36) WITH 37 STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TOUCHDOWN
Tom Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 37 straight regular season games following a 4-yard touchdown pass to WR Wes Welker in the first quarter to move past Brett Favre (36) for the third longest streak in NFL history, behind Drew Brees at 47 (prior to tonight’s game) and Johnny Unitas (47) (1956-60). Brady’s current streak started when he threw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in 2010 and 2011 and now the first five games of 2012. The old team record was 19 games, also set by Brady.
RUNNING BACK SHANE VEREEN SCORES SECOND NFL TOUCHDOWN
Running back Shane Vereen scored his second NFL touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter. He had a 4-yard touchdown run on Monday Night Football vs. Kansas City last season (Nov. 2011).
PATRIOTS GO OVER 30 POINTS FOR FOURTH TIME IN FIVE GAMES IN 2012; PATRIOTS TIED NFL RECORD FOR MOST 30-POINT GAMES IN A SINGLE SEASON IN 2011
The New England Patriots scored 31 points in the win vs. Denver for their fourth game in 2012 with 30 or more points after scoring 34 points at Tennessee, 30 points at Baltimore and 52 at Buffalo. The Patriots scored 30 points 12 times in 2011 to tie the NFL record for most 30-point games in a single season. The 2007 Patriots and the 1999 St. Louis Rams also had 12 30 point games. The NFL record for most consecutive 30-point games in a single season is eight by the 2007 and 2010 Patriots and the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
ALFONZO DENNARD SEE FIRST NFL ACTION
Seventh round draft pick defensive back Alfonzo Dennard saw action in his first NFL game. Dennard defensed a pass on a key third down play in the second quarter that forced Denver into a punting situation.
ROOKIE TAVON WILSON GETS FIRST NFL START
Second round pick safety Tavon Wilson made his first NFL start when he lined up at safety in place of Steve Gregory, who was out with an injury.
PATRIOTS ARE WICKED GOOD IN OCTOBER
Following the win over Denver, the Patriots are 33-6 in the month of October since the 2003 season and have won 24 out of their last 27 October games. The Patriots are 19-1 at home and 14-5 on the road during that time in October. The Patriots only home loss during that time was a 41-17 victory by the visiting San Diego Chargers on October 2, 2005.
WELKER ADDS 32nd TOUCHDOWN TO MOVE PAST TROY BROWN ON THE PATRIOTS ALL-TIME TOUCHDOWN RECEPTION LIST
He now has 32 career touchdowns with the Patriots after a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the second quarter to move past Troy Brown (31) for 7th place on the Patriots all-time list. Irving Fryar is sixth with 38 receiving touchdowns. Stanley Morgan has the Patriots record with 67 touchdown receptions.
Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore ended Denver’s first offensive possession when he ran down Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and punched the ball loose, recording a forced fumble and then a fumble recovery to give New England possession. The play marked the first forced fumble and the first fumble recovery of Moore’s career and was the third forced turnover of his career, joining his two interceptions in the 2011 regular-season finale against Buffalo.
NINKOVICH CAUSES A PAIR OF TURNOVERS
- Rob Ninkovich strip-sacked Peyton Manning on first down from the Broncos’ 20-yard line in the third quarter and Vince Wilfork recovered the ball at the Broncos’ 14-yard line to give the Patriots possession and set up a six-play, 14-yard drive that ended in an 8-yard touchdown run by Steven Ridley and a 31-7 Patriots lead.
- Ninkovich forced a McGahee fumble at the Patriots’ 11-yard line with 3:48 left in the game and Jermaine Cunningham recovered the loose ball to give the Patriots possession and stop a driving Broncos offense that was looking to cut into a 10-point Denver deficit.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUICK HITS
- Jerod Mayo had his first sack of the season in the first quarter, dropping Peyton Manning for a 7-yard loss on third-and-five, forcing a Broncos punt on the next play.
- Brandon Spikes tackled Willis McGahee for a 4-yard loss in the first quarter.
- Vince Wilfork and Jermaine Cunningham teamed up to stop Willis McGahee for a loss of a yard on first-and-goal from the Patriots’ 1-yard line in the third quarter.
- Chandler Jones batted down a Peyton Manning pass at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter.
- Rookie Alfonzo Dennard, making his NFL debut, broke up a Peyton Manning pass intended for Brandon Stokely on third-and-five at the Patriots’ 39-yard line in the second quarter, snuffing out a potential Denver scoring drive and forcing a Broncos punt on the next play.