Special teams disaster: Broncos lose 5th game in-a-row; fall to Patriots, 41-16

DENVER — The Broncos dropped their fifth game-in-row on Sunday night as they lost to the New England Patriots, 41-16, in Denver.

It’s the first time since 2010 the Broncos have lost five games in-a-row.

Although there was glimmers of hope from the Broncos offense (it was a big game for Emmanuel Sanders) – they still struggled and were unable to complete a comeback.

The Broncos defense looked worn down as they gave up over 40 points for the second week in-a-row. Although, the points weren’t completely their fault – they still gave up touchdown drives to extend the Patriots lead.

But it was Brock Olivio’s special teams unit that really hurt the Broncos in this game.

From a muffed punt to a penalty for too many men on the field that resulted in a touchdown – it was an embarrassing performance from the special teams from the start.

Things looked promising for the Broncos after the defense forced Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to go 3-and-out on the opening drive, but then special teams took the field.

In the first of several mistakes by the Broncos special teams, Isiah McKenzie muffed the punt and the Patriots recovered inside the red zone. It took just two plays for Brady and the Patriots to make it 7-0.

It was McKenzie’s fifth muffed punt this season.

Brock Osweiler responded to the McKenzie disaster with a 31 yard strike to Sanders to midfield and eventually set up a third and four with another pass to Sanders inside field goal range.

After a dropped pass by Demaryius Thomas  on third down, the Broncos stalled and had to settle for a 39 yard field goal from Brandon McManus.

But, when special teams took the field again on the ensuing kickoff, Dion Lewis would make a 103 yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 14-3.

The offense came back out and Osweiler hit Sanders for a huge 38 yard gain, followed by a 21 yard run from C.J. Anderson. But, once again, the Broncos had to settle for a 33 yard field goal from McManus to make it 14-6.

A third special teams mistake would happen as Rex Burkhead blocked Riley Dixon’s punt to once again give the Patriots great field position.

But, on the Patriots next few drives, the Broncos defense would hold the Patriots to field goals making it 20-6.

The offense was attempting to keep the Broncos in the game as Osweiler hit Sanders again for a huge 20+ yard gain. It was his fourth catch of the game for 104 yards.

But, the drive would result in another field goal for the Broncos to make it 20-9.

The Broncos defense gave the Patriots offense their first touchdown of the game just before halftime to make it 27-9.

At this point in the game, the Broncos had 189 yards for 9 points while the Patriots had 184 yards for 27 points.

The offense would finally find the end zone on the opening drive of the second half as Osweiler hit Thomas for seven yards and the touchdown making it 27-16.

It cut the Patriots lead, but not for long. The defense looked tired as Brady threw to Rob Gronkowski for 26 yards and Brandin Cooks for 25 – and in just seven plays the Patriots capped it off with a 8 yard touchdown run from Lewis.

It was a play where Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods only put ten players on the field.

The special teams continued to hurt the Broncos in the fourth quarter. While the defense forced the Patriots to punt, the special teams had 12 men on the field. The penalty for too many men on the field gave the Patriots a fresh set of downs.

It would lead to another Patriots touchdown as Brady found James White in the end-zone to make it 41-16.

Things just continued to get bad for the Broncos – this time it was Osweiler being picked off in the fourth.

The last time the Broncos lost five game in-a-row, it was 2010 and Josh McDaniels was the head coach.

With the loss, the Broncos drop to 3-6 and last place in the AFC West. They will take on the Cincinnati Bengals (also 3-6) in Denver next week.