The New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos 34-31 in overtime on Sunday, but it was an unusual game.
In the frigid New England night, Tom Brady of the Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Broncos led their teams in what has been described as the NFL’s wackiest game of the season.
This was the 14th time the two quarterbacks met on the field.
Doug Tribou joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the highlights from the game last night.
- Doug Tribou, reporter and producer for NPR’s Only A Game, produced at WBUR Boston. He tweets @DougTribou.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
It was the 14th meeting between two Hall of Fame-bound NFL quarterbacks, and it was a doozy. In the frigid New England night, Tom Brady of the Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos led their teams in what's been described as the NFL's wackiest game of the season. The Pats coming out on top in overtime.
Joining us in the studio is Doug Tribou from NPR's ONLY A GAME. And Doug, I was there, and given the talent on these two teams, no one was surprised at the close final, 34-31. But the way that that happened was quite a shocker.
DOUG TRIBOU, BYLINE: Well, it was the coldest November night game for a Patriots game at home. And it was a cold night, and the Patriots looked like they were playing hot potato in the first half. They fumbled it on their first three possessions, and the Broncos capitalized on all of them. By the end of the first quarter, it was 17-nothing Denver. By the end of the half it was 24-nothing Denver, which nobody had predicted.
HOBSON: And some people got up and walked out...
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
...and, boy, I bet they are regretting that this morning. Although I will say that the club level, they all got up and fled their seats because they had the ability to go inside where it wasn't so cold.
HOBSON: But I think they were still there. Tell us about what happened after that half.
TRIBOU: Well, in the second half, the Patriots just plucked away. They managed to get themselves on track. They got some of the breaks that the Broncos got in the first half. And things kind of got back and forth, back and forth, and then all of a sudden the Patriots are ahead 31-24. The Broncos managed to tie it up, and we head into overtime.
HOBSON: And the overtime call - this was very interesting - that the Pats coach, Bill Belichick - there was a coin toss, which the Patriots won, and instead of putting his team on offense, which is what 99.9 percent of NFL coaches would have done, Belichick decided to kick off. And the weather had a lot to do with that decision, right?
TRIBOU: Well, right. If you're kicking off, you get to choose which goal you defend. So they chose - with 20-mile-an-hour winds for most of the night, kickoffs, field goals and passing had been difficult if you're playing into the wind. So they forced the Broncos to come back into the wind. It was a very big risk, but it worked. They stopped the Broncos, got the ball, stopped the Broncos again. And then, you know, all heck broke loose.
HOBSON: Never thought those little flags on the goalpost would be so important as they were waving in the wind. Even before the craziness of this game, Doug, a lot of people were excited about it because it was, as we said, the 14th matchup between these two legendary quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who may have a limited number of encounters left. Let's talk about them, starting with Manning.
TRIBOU: There's no question that Peyton Manning will go down on the all-time list as one of the greats. He's got two career Super Bowl appearances. What's stunning is that he could have very well retired based on his neck injury. He decided to have his spine fused to stabilize it, came back with another team and is playing as well, if not better, than he did in some seasons in Indianapolis. So he is an astonishing - having an astonishing season. Last night not the best example of that, but overall a great season at any age, never mind in your mid to late 30s.
HOBSON: What about Brady, who always seems to be able to find a way to win?
TRIBOU: He is the leader in playoff appearances among active players. Peyton Manning is number two. Brady is the ultimate competitor in terms of drive, in terms of his just motivation and his ability to motivate the players. And obviously Bill Belichick's a part of that too. They just did not give up. They say that they say play 60 minutes, and last night they had to play more than that to win.
HOBSON: All right. Before we let you go, Doug, I want to ask you about something. Sad news, especially for our listeners in Chicago, where we find out that Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose is going to undergo surgery for his right knee after injuring it last Monday night. He's out for the rest of the season, most likely. And this after such a - such happiness that he was coming back finally after a torn ACL on his left leg, right?
TRIBOU: This is just one of those sort of terrible fate or whatever you'd like to call it moments. Two years ago he tears his left ACL, misses most of that season. Misses all of last season and took a lot of criticism for not coming back. He was medically cleared to come back, could have been part of the playoff run. Maybe the Bulls go a little deeper than they did last year.
He says I want to be fully sound mentally and physically, waits to come back this season. Now, 10, 11 games in, he's out again. If you're a fan of the game of basketball, this is a loss. This is a former league MVP who's 25. We should be seeing him on the highlight reels almost every night.
HOBSON: And hopefully we will see him as soon as he gets better and he can delight us all on the court. Doug Tribou follows football, basketball and a whole lot of other sports for NPR's "Only A Game." Doug, thanks for coming in.
TRIBOU: Thanks, Jeremy.
HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.
CHAKRABARTI: I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.