With their stunning, back-from-the-dead victory over Denver on Sunday night -- a game in which they overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit to win 34-31 in overtime, the New England Patriots put themselves in prime position for a first-round playoff bye.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said the game showed his team's mental toughness.
"That's what it's all about," Brady said. "You've got to be able to put all that stuff aside. You've got to forget about what happened in the first half, because it was a terrible half of football. I don't even know what you coach at that point.
"So we came in and we talked about some of the things they were doing, what we needed to do. We needed to put together some good plays, which would make a good drive. And if that happened to be a few good drives, we'd be back in the game."
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick made a somewhat surprising decision at the start of overtime when, after winning the coin toss, he opted to have his team kick off instead of immediately putting his offense back on the field. He felt it was more important to choose the direction, so his team would have the strong wind at its back.
"It was a strong wind ..." Belichick said. "I just felt like the wind would be an advantage if we could keep them out of the end zone on that first drive. We were able to do that."
Broncos interim Coach Jack Del Rio said that on his team's second possession of the overtime period, when the offense had a fourth down on the New England 37, he considered a Matt Prater field-goal attempt that could have won the game. It would have been a 54-yard kick into the wind, however. Del Rio said Jeff Rodgers, Denver's special-teams coordinator, advised against it.
"I asked Jeff, I said, 'Are we in range?' and he said, 'No.'" Del Rio said. "I even said, 'Field goal here?' And he said, 'No, I really don't think we can make this kick here.' It was tempting, because it was close."
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