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A Quick Start More to Bledsoe's Liking

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

DENVER — Late-game miracles weren't working for Drew Bledsoe, so he accelerated his timetable.

Bledsoe, frustrated by his failure to rally his team in the closing minutes of the first four games, passed for three touchdowns in the first half and finished with four Sunday as the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos, 28-19.

With last-ditch heroics rendered unnecessary, the Patriots cruised to their first victory.

Bledsoe, who had passed for only three touchdowns in the first four games, completed 18 of 27 passes for 271 yards, with one interception. In the process, he moved ahead of Steve Grogan into first place on the Patriots's all-time list with 27,033 yards passing.

"This one feels good," he said. "It's been a long time coming, and it's a good win for us. For three weeks we've been working on our red-zone offense, and today we finally made the plays when we had to. It was important to jump out early and take the crowd out of the game. Historically, the Broncos have been a fast-starting team.

"We took some of the wind out of their sails."

Troy Brown caught two touchdown passes, and finished with six receptions for 124 yards.

The Patriots (1-4) held the Broncos without an offensive touchdown until Brian Griese passed 43 yards to Travis McGriff with 1:56 to play.

Denver (2-3) lost for the second consecutive game--both at Denver--and the Patriots ended an 11-game losing streak at Mile High Stadium that dated to 1968.

Griese, who sat out last week's game because of torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder, completed 31 of 50 passes for 361 yards. Rod Smith had 13 catches, tying a club record, for 160 yards.

"Any time you have to throw the ball more than 50 times, it puts you in a one-dimensional game," Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan said. "We got kicked up and down the field today. We couldn't put it in the end zone when we had to."

Added Smith: "It was ugly, very ugly."

Terrell Davis carried nine times for 24 yards. Still troubled by a sprained left ankle, he was replaced by Mike Anderson early in the second quarter and didn't return.

"It's like I'm literally playing on one leg," Davis said. "It gets worse every time I go out there."

The Patriots scored on their first two possessions, taking advantage of a turnover and missed tackles by the Denver defense en route to a 21-3 halftime lead.

On the fourth play from scrimmage, defensive end Willie McGinest sacked Griese, forced a fumble and recovered at the Denver 29. Four plays later, Bledsoe hit Brown on an 11-yard scoring pass.

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