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Patriots Set Up Broncos With a Long, Good Bye

October 28, 2002|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The Denver Broncos hope their bye week is better than the one the New England Patriots just endured.

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

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

Denver (6-2) should have plenty after winning its second consecutive game, both on the road, with a balanced offense and an aggressive defense.

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

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

"We're in a good spot. Not only are we 6-2, but other than Tom Nalen, we're pretty injury-free," Griese said. "New England, if you look at it, should have been hungrier than they were."

Nalen, the four-time Pro Bowl center, is out for the season with a knee injury, but the Broncos moved the ball well with second-year pro Ben Hamilton replacing him.

"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."

Denver moved half a game behind idle San Diego in the AFC West and plays division rival Oakland (4-3) in two weeks.

"This is the perfect time for the break so, hopefully, the little bruises recover and we can come back and continue the streak," Portis said.

Portis, who had touchdown runs of one and four yards, helped the Patriots (3-4) extend to five consecutive games their streak of allowing an opponent to rush for more than 100 yards.

Griese threw a touchdown pass for the 23rd consecutive game, the longest current streak in the NFL, but his team-record streak of four games with at least 300 yards passing ended.

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