FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the statistics that has already generated some media momentum leading into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos is that quarterback Tom Brady is 2-6 in games played in Denver.
“It’s a great football environment. They’ve had some good teams when we’ve played out there,” Brady said Monday on sports radio WEEI. “I didn’t realize we were 2-6, but the crowd gets into it. We’ve had a lot of close games there. I think it always comes down to something at the end.”
To add some context to the bottom-line record, here’s a recap of Brady in Denver:
Oct. 28, 2001 -- This was Brady’s fifth career game as a starter and the Patriots lost 31-20 as a promising early 10-0 evaporated into Denver’s thin air. Brady was 25-of-38 for 203 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions (all in the fourth quarter). He hadn’t thrown an interception in his prior four starts. A 65-yard touchdown catch by Broncos receiver Rod Smith was a turning point.
Nov. 3, 2003 -- One of the Patriots' most exciting regular-season road games in the Brady-Bill Belichick era, the Patriots recorded a 30-26 victory when Brady connected with receiver David Givens for an 18-yard touchdown with 30 seconds remaining. It wouldn’t have been possible if Belichick didn’t call for an intentional safety with the Patriots trailing 24-23 and backed up on their own 1-yard line on fourth down with 2 minutes, 49 seconds remaining. Brady was 20-of-35 for 350 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.
Nov. 16, 2005 -- The Patriots struggled against quarterback Jake Plummer and the deep ball, Tatum Bell ripped off a 68-yard run, and the Patriots fell behind by 25 points before mounting a comeback that fell short in a 28-20 loss. Brady was 24-of-46 for 299 yards and a touchdown. Patriots fans might remember this game from when then-rookie guard Logan Mankins was ejected for a low blow.
Jan. 14, 2006 -- A 27-13 Patriots loss in the divisional round of the playoffs is known for the hustle play by tight end Benjamin Watson to chase down Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey on a 100-yard interception return. Brady was 20-of-36 for 341 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. The result ensured the Patriots wouldn’t become the first team to win three straight Super Bowls.
Oct. 11, 2009 -- Who is that young, excitable coach pumping his fists in the air after the Broncos beat the Patriots 20-17 in overtime? Oh yeah, it’s Josh McDaniels, the current Patriots offensive coordinator who was then in his first year as Denver’s head coach. McDaniels sprung a version of the Wildcat on the Patriots, he got solid quarterback play from Kyle Orton, and Brady finished 19-of-33 for 215 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Dec. 18, 2011 -- The Patriots clinched the AFC East title with a 41-23 victory by eventually slowing down Tim Tebow, who had created excitement by posting a 7-2 record as a starter at that point. It didn’t look good early, as the Broncos totaled 167 rushing yards in the first quarter, but order was restored as Brady finished 23-of-34 for 320 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jan. 19, 2014 -- Peyton Manning (400 yards passing) outdueled Brady in the AFC Championship Game, with the Broncos posting a 26-16 victory as they controlled the game throughout (35:44-24:16 time of possession edge). Brady finished 24-of-38 for 277 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Nov. 29, 2015 -- Manning didn’t play because of a foot injury and Brock Osweiler showed he could win a duel with Brady, as the Broncos posted a 30-24 overtime win to snap the Patriots’ 10-game winning streak. Tight end Rob Gronkowski injured his knee and was carted off in the fourth quarter, but when it was learned that the injury wouldn’t end his season, that almost trumped the game from a Patriots perspective. Brady was 23-of-42 for three touchdowns and no interceptions.