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Denver at New England

Cassel steps up, Morris busts loose as Pats trash Broncos

CBSSports.com wire reports
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The team Tom Brady used to lead to dominant wins finally showed up.

The New England Patriots played like the club that had a perfect regular-season record last year as Matt Cassel, in his best game since taking over for the injured quarterback, threw three touchdown passes, Sammy Morris ran for 138 yards and they routed the Denver Broncos 41-7 on Monday night.

On defense, they forced five turnovers. And on special teams, Wes Welker's 44-yard punt return set up Randy Moss' second touchdown catch.

"The main focus was to really play a complementary game," Moss said, "special teams, offense and defense. And I think we did that tonight.

"When we put all three of those things together, this team is very, very scary."

That team had been very, very inconsistent -- solid one week, shaky the next. Nothing like the Brady-led steamroller that won eight games by at least 20 points and two by at least 30 last season. Only a last-minute touchdown in a 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants kept the Patriots from going 19-0.

"We played with a lot of emotion," said Brandon Meriweather, who had one of the two interceptions off Jay Cutler. "We've got a lot of little things to still fix."

New England (4-2) finished with 257 yards rushing. Denver (4-3) lost for the third time in four games.

"In front of the nation, we didn't show up tonight," cornerback Dre' Bly said. "It's embarrassing."

Against the NFL's worst pass defense, Moss' two touchdowns doubled his total for the season. That's still far short of his NFL record of the 23 last season he caught from Brady, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in this year's opener.

Still, it was a solid comeback for him, and his team, after last week's 30-10 loss at San Diego.

Coach Bill Belichick followed that with some tough practices.

"He really put it to us this week," Moss said. "Hopefully, he can let up Wednesday."

New England led 20-0 at halftime and 34-0 before Jay Cutler connected with former Patriots tight end Daniel Graham for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 13:21 left in the game.

"They outplayed us from the first snap of the game," Graham said.

Rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished the scoring with his first touchdown on a 1-yard run.

"I love the other running backs. They're like my brothers," he said. "I just wanted to continue to pick up where (Morris) left off."

Cassel was sacked six times and the Patriots lost Morris and safety Rodney Harrison to knee injuries, but they still posted an easy victory over Denver, which had won five of its last six games at New England. The Patriots gave no update on the extent of the injuries.

The Broncos, who are off next weekend, lost brothers Boss and Champ Bailey to injuries in the first half. Linebacker Boss Bailey hurt his knee and cornerback Champ Bailey injured his groin.

"Standing on the sidelines, you can see that the sense of urgency was not there," Champ Bailey said.

Cutler missed the final series of the half with a finger injury but returned for Denver's first possession of the third quarter. He appeared to be hurt on the first play after the opening kickoff when he hit his throwing hand on the helmet of tackle Vince Wilfork on a pass that sailed wide.

Cutler, third in the NFL in yards passing entering the game, was 17-for-26 for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Cassel, who took over for Brady, finished 18-for-24 for 185 yards. The three touchdowns matched his total for the first five games.

"I'd like to think that I continue to grow each and every week," Cassel said. "The more you run this offense, the more comfortable you become."

He threw touchdown passes of 13 and 27 yards to Moss and a 6-yarder to Welker that made it 34-0 late in the third quarter.

But the Patriots really ripped through the Broncos with their running game. With Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan both sidelined, Morris beat his career high for yards on just 16 carries, including a 4-yard score, all in the first half.

Green-Ellis took over after that and rushed for 65 yards on 13 carries.

"Oh, goodness," Cassel said. "If we run the ball like that, we'll be in good hands."

Stephen Gostkowski kicked first-half field goals of 31 and 40 yards after backup running back Andre Hall fumbled on his only two carries of the game. LeKevin Smith recovered the first fumble after Denver went from its 27-yard line to New England's 32 on the first series of the game. Rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo recovered the second.

The Broncos also committed two costly 15-yard penalties on an 84-yard drive capped by the first of Cassel's two TD passes to Moss, the 13-yarder that put the Patriots ahead 20-0 with 44 seconds left in the half.

Cassel's six sacks brought the Patriots total to 26 for the season. They were sacked 21 times all last season.

Notes

  • Cutler was sacked twice, matching his total for the first five games.
  • Belichick improved to 3-5 against Mike Shanahan's Broncos since Belichick became coach of the Patriots in 2000. He doesn't have a losing record against any other team.
  • Moss' 129 total touchdowns are eighth in NFL history. His 128 touchdowns receiving are fourth, two behind Cris Carter.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Is that a smile Bill Belichick is sporting? Not a surprise after his Pats show glimpses of their dominant form.
 
Is that a smile Bill Belichick is sporting? Not a surprise after his Pats show glimpses of their dominant form. (Getty Images)
 

 

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Mon. Oct. 20Final
Denver
(4-3)
00077
61414741
DEN - Pass: J. Cutler (17-26, 168), Rush: M. Pittman (20-88)
NE - Pass: M. Cassel (18-24, 185), Rush: S. Morris (16-138)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGStephen Gostkowski 31 Yd, 5:08. Drive: 8 plays, 55 yards in 3:45.
FGStephen Gostkowski 40 Yd, 2:06. Drive: 4 plays, 1 yards in 0:49.
2ND QUARTER
TDSammy Morris, 4 Yd run (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 7:34. Drive: 6 plays, 56 yards in 2:35.
TDRandy Moss, 13 Yd pass from Matt Cassel (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 0:44. Drive: 9 plays, 84 yards in 4:26.
3RD QUARTER
TDRandy Moss, 27 Yd pass from Matt Cassel (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 7:32. Drive: 3 plays, 28 yards in 1:15.
TDWes Welker, 6 Yd pass from Matt Cassel (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 2:21. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 3:38.
4TH QUARTER
TDDaniel Graham, 10 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Matt Prater kick is good), 13:21. Drive: 9 plays, 72 yards in 4:00.
TDBenJarvus Green-Ellis, 1 Yd run (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 3:09. Drive: 7 plays, 52 yards in 3:13.
Players of the Game

S. Morris
Rush 16
Yds 138
Avg 8.6
TD 1
Baltimore

E. Dumervil
Tk 2
Sck 2.0
Int 0
Fumb Rec 0
 
Denver
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Cutler17/2616812
P. Ramsey2/31900
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Pittman2088013
J. Cutler31807
B. Marshall1707
A. Hall2-700
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Marshall677020
E. Royal971013
D. Graham227117
D. Jackson110010
N. Jackson1202
New England
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Cassel18/2418530
RushingATTYDSTDLG
S. Morris16138134
B. Green-Ellis1365115
K. Faulk450016
H. Evans1303
M. Cassel4104
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
R. Moss569227
W. Welker663127
B. Watson340029
S. Aiken1707
K. Faulk3608
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
SEA 10 Final
TB 20
CLE 11 Final
WAS 14
NYJ 13 Final
OAK 16
IND 14 Final
GB 34
DET 21 Final
HOU 28
DAL 14 Final
STL 34
SF 17 Final
NYG 29
BAL 27 Final
MIA 13
TEN 34 Final
KC 10
PIT 38 Final
CIN 10
MIN 41 Final
CHI 48
NO 7 Final
CAR 30
SD 14 Final
BUF 23