Darian Stewart, Derek Wolfe banged up for Broncos

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The Broncos defense has lost one of its starters as they try to make their lead stand up against the Patriots in the third quarter.

Safety Darian Stewart left the game with a knee injury and is being called questionable to return by the Broncos. Stewart’s absence didn’t stop the Broncos from forcing Ryan Allen’s fifth punt of the game a couple of plays later, although the Broncos punted the ball right back three plays later.

Those dueling three and outs illustrate just how much this has been a battle of the defenses in Denver on Sunday afternoon. The only score of the second half came on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal set up by a 31-yard gain by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski left the game for the rest of the drive, but has since returned after hydrating on the sideline.

He hasn’t helped the offense find its footing, though. Von Miller has had a lot to do with keeping them off track with a pair of sacks in the third quarter, including one on a third down a couple of plays after the Broncos saw defensive end Derek Wolfe head to the bench for medical attention as well. Miller now has 2.5 sacks and an interception on the day and the Broncos lead 17-12 with 15 minutes left to play.

UPDATE 5:53 p.m. ET: Wolfe returned to the game in the fourth quarter with the Broncos leading 20-12.