The Broncos wanted a flag on Patriots safety Devin McCourty on an incomplete pass to tight end Julius Thomas in the end zone, but they had to settle for three points.
McCourty’s aggressive defense went unpenalized and Chandler Jones’ pass rush helped Peyton Manning fire high on third down to force the Broncos into a field goal try that Matt Prater hit for a first down. Manning hit Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker for big plays on the drive and has opened the game 8-of-12 for 111 yards.
A flag that did get called might have cost the Patriots at least three points of their own. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was flagged for offensive pass interference on an eight-yard completion to Austin Collie that would have left the Patriots with fourth-and-two on the Broncos’ 25-yard line, but their decision about going for it was moot because of the flag.
The Patriots wound up punting and the Broncos hold onto their early lead. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was shaken up on the Patriots’ drive and New England cornerback Aqib Talib also needed medical attention early in the second quarter.