The Associated PressDENVER (AP) — Denver is no longer Tom Brady’s House of Horrors and the Broncos sure don’t scare anybody anymore.
Brady threw three touchdown passes and the New England Patriots matched their own AFC record with their 12th consecutive road victory, pummeling the Broncos 41-16 on Sunday night.
Brady’s 86th regular-season road win broke a tie with Peyton Manning for most all-time.
“It’s always hard to win in the NFL, certainly on the road,” Brady said. “We found a way to do it last year and we’re off to a good start this year.”
Not so the Broncos.
These teams have represented the AFC in the last four Super Bowls, and the Broncos (3-6) were hoping a visit from their rivals would help shake them from their funk. Beat Brady, suggested Aqib Talib, and “the swag, the energy in this locker room, it’ll skyrocket.”
Instead, the Broncos fizzled.
They lost their fifth straight game, their worst skid in seven seasons, and they dropped back-to-back games to the Patriots (7-2) in Denver for the first time since 1966.
Avoiding Von Miller all night and throwing for 266 yards on 25-of-34 passing, Brady improved to 8-9 against the Broncos, the only team he has a losing record against, and he won for just the fourth time in 11 trips to Denver.
The Patriots also won a dozen consecutive road games from 2006-08. The NFL record is 18 set by the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers from 1988-90.
Speaking of historic, the Patriots for the first time since 1979 had a special teams takeaway, a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown, a trifecta that fueled a comfortable 27-9 halftime lead.
The Patriots went three-and-out to start the game but rookie Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt led to Brady’s 14-yard TD toss to running back Rex Burkhead.
“That’s not the first punt McKenzie has muffed this year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Indeed, it was his fifth fumble, including four muffs.
“It puts us in a big hole,” McKenzie said. “I put the blame all on me. If I would’ve caught that first punt, did anything with it, besides turn it over, then probably ... things would’ve changed for us.”
The Patriots had five touchdowns and a pair of field goals before they’d punt again.
“We knew McKenzie had muffed a couple so we told our gunners to get down there and make it tough on him,” Patriots DB Devin McCourty said. “Then we get the blocked punt return.”
He’s getting ahead of himself, but who could blame him?
After kicking a 39-yard field goal, Brandon McManus failed on the ensuing kickoff to get in front of returner Dion Lewis, whose 103-yard return down Denver’s demoralized sideline made it 14-3.
“How are you supposed to win against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when you’re starting off [like that]?” wondered Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. “You can’t.”
Then, Burkhead sliced through the line to block Riley Dixon’s punt at the Broncos’ 30-yard line, leading to Stephen Gostkowski’s second field goal and a 20-6 lead.
“I have not,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph replied when asked if he’d ever seen a worse special teams performance. “That wasn’t the only issue we had. We were 1 for 4 in the red zone. We moved the ball better tonight but we didn’t score touchdowns. And defensively they scored on seven straight possessions.”
Tight end Martellus Bennett was active — and productive — for New England just a few days after he accused the Green Bay Packers of pressuring him to play through a shoulder injury.
Green Bay had waived Bennett with the designation that he “failed to disclose a physical condition,” but Bennett said the Packers were aware of his balky shoulder when they signed him.
His first catch covered 27 yards and he finished with three catches for 38 yards.
49ers top Giants for 1st win
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — C.J. Beathard threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first win of the season with a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Beathard connected on an 83-yard TD to Marquise Goodwin and a 47-yarder to Garrett Celek in the second quarter as the 49ers (1-9) took advantage of another listless effort by the Giants (1-8) to win for the first time under coach Kyle Shanahan.
The loss will only heighten the questions about whether the Giants will need to dump coach Ben McAdoo. The Giants have not fired a coach during the season since 1976, when Bill Arnsparger was let go after a 0-7 start and was replaced by John McVay.