FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit, failed to hold a late seven-point lead and then got an incredible break to win in overtime.
A punt by New England's Ryan Allen was waved off by Denver Broncos return man Wes Welker, who allowed the ball to hit the ground. The ball then struck Denver cornerback Tony Carter, a former Patriot, and was recovered by Patriots safety Nate Ebner at the Broncos 13-yard line. After two runs into the line, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1:56 left in OT, giving New England a wild 34-31 victory Sunday night.
And into Monday morning.
Because of a stiff wind, Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided not to take the ball after New England won the overtime toss. The decision worked out.
Gostkowski's 21st consecutive field-goal attempt ended a frigid night (6 degrees wind chill at game time) that saw New England booed off the field trailing 24-0 at the half.
Quarterback Tom Brady then led the Patriots to 31 consecutive points and the lead in his latest battle with Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. However, Manning took his team 80 yards for the tying score, and the game went into overtime, where it looked as if it might end in the NFL's second tie of the day.
Then came the bounce, and the Broncos fell to 9-2.
The Patriots (8-3) lost three fumbles in the first quarter and fumbled six times in the first half. By the end of the game, though, the Broncos also lost three fumbles.
Brady, 10-for-17 for 81 yards at the half, hit 15 of his first 17 second-half passes and threw for three touchdowns -- two to wide receiver Julian Edelman (nine catches, 110 yards). He was working against a banged-up Denver defense that lost cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a shoulder injury and seemed to have someone limping off on every play.
Brady finished 34-for-50 for 344 yards. Manning was 19-for-36 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
The loss overshadowed a career night by Denver running back Knowshon Moreno, who ran for a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries.
The Patriots scored 28 points in a span of 13:08 in the third quarter and into the fourth. Brady recorded the 56th 300-yard game of his career and also became the fifth NFL quarterback with 350 career touchdown passes.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller ran 60 yards with a fumble recovery 5:06 into the game, and three fumbles led to 17 Denver points in what looked like it might be a blowout.
Welker, a former Patriots favorite who was booed by the home crowd, caught four passes for 31 yards and dropped three passes in his return.
In their first 10 games, the Patriots fumbled 13 times, losing five. They coughed it up three times on their first 13 plays Sunday, making them the first team since 2007 to lose three fumbles in a first quarter. Running backs Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount and Brady all lost the ball.
Denver safety Duke Ihenacho, who forced the Blount fumble in the first quarter, left the game in the second to undergo concussion testing. He returned to action after halftime.
Both Ridley and Blount were benched in favor of Brandon Bolden, who ripped off a 33-yard run, the highlight of the New England first half.
Bolden finished with 13 carries for 58 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
NOTES: Broncos coach John Fox, who had heart-valve replacement surgery in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 4, will return to Denver on owner Pat Bowden's private plane Wednesday. There was no word on when Fox would coach again. ... The Patriots welcomed former WR Wes Welker with a pregame video tribute. ... Patriots CBs Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (knee), both questionable, played, while S Steve Gregory (thumb) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) didn't. ... Denver TE Julius Thomas (knee) was scratched. Broncos CB Champ Bailey, who has played in only two games this season because of a foot injury, hoped to play but was inactive. ... A plan to unfurl a huge American flag to on the field for Salute To Service Night had to be scrapped because of the wind. ... The Patriots visit the floundering Houston Texans on Sunday, while the Broncos head to Kansas City for a rematch against the Chiefs.