Alfonzo Dennard briefly exits as teams trade punts

AP

We’ve had a couple of Omahas, but no points through the first three possessions in Denver.

The Patriots went three and out to open the game and their defense then forced the Broncos to punt after a couple of first downs to keep the game scoreless. One of the first downs came after Peyton Manning juggled a shotgun snap a couple of times before reeling it in and firing a completion to Eric Decker.

The Patriots forced the punt despite the loss of cornerback Alfonzo Dennard to an apparent shoulder injury on the drive. Denver took advantage of Dennard’s absence right away as Decker beat Dennard’s replacement Logan Ryan for a long gain. Dont’a Hightower dropped running back Knowshon Moreno for a five-yard loss a couple of plays later, though, and the defense was able to hold.

New England then went three and out again, trying a deep throw to special teams ace Matthew Slater on third down that fell incomplete.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m. ET: Dennard has returned on the second Broncos possession of the first quarter.