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Cassel, Patriots assert control

October 21, 2008|Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots finally dominated the way they did when Tom Brady was playing.

Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes in his best game since taking over for the injured quarterback, Sammy Morris rushed for 138 yards and New England routed the Denver Broncos, 41-7, Monday night.

Randy Moss caught two touchdown passes, doubling his total for the season.

New England (4-2) forced five turnovers and finished with 257 yards rushing.

For one night, at least, the post-Brady blues were shoved aside.

"The main focus was to really play a complementary game," Moss said, "special teams, offense and defense. And I think we did that tonight.

"When we put all three of those things together, this team is very, very scary."

New England led 20-0 at halftime and 34-0 before Jay Cutler connected with former Patriots tight end Daniel Graham for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 13:21 left in the game. Then rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished the scoring with his first touchdown on a one-yard run.

Cassel was sacked six times, and the Patriots lost Morris and safety Rodney Harrison to knee injuries. But they still posted an easy victory over Denver (4-3), which had won five of its last six games at New England.

The Broncos lost for the third time in four games, and brothers Boss and Champ Bailey went down because of injuries in the first half. Linebacker Boss Bailey hurt his knee, and cornerback Champ Bailey injured his groin. Cutler sat out the final series of the half because of a finger injury but returned for Denver's first possession of the third quarter.

He appeared to be hurt on the first play after the opening kickoff when he hit his throwing hand on the helmet of tackle Vince Wilfork on a pass that sailed wide.

Cutler, third in the NFL in yards passing entering the game, completed 17 of 26 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Cassel, who took over when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener, completed 18 of 24 for 185 yards. The three touchdowns matched his total for the first five games.

"I'd like to think that I continue to grow each and every week," Cassel said. "The more you run this offense, the more comfortable you become."

The Broncos entered with the worst pass defense in the NFL and Cassel exploited it with touchdown passes of 13 and 27 yards to Moss and a six-yarder to Wes Welker that made it 34-0 late in the third quarter.

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