Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - In a matchup of two of the game's marquee quarterbacks, the New England Patriots' ground attack proved to be the difference-maker.
Second-year running back Stevan Ridley rushed for a career-high 151 yards and one touchdown, helping New England beat the Denver Broncos, 31-21, at Gillette Stadium.
A hiccup for Ridley on Sunday was a fumble he lost with 5:19 to play in the fourth quarter. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw three touchdown passes to Tom Brady's one score through the air and outgained his New England counterpart, 345-223, led his club into the red zone, looking to make it a one-possession game.
On 2nd-and-10 from the 14-yard line, Manning handed the ball off to Willis McGahee and New England's Rob Ninkovich forced his second fumble of the game to hinder the rally.
Brady completed a 9-yard pass to Wes Welker, the last of his game-high 13 receptions, on 3rd-and-3, and the Patriots ran out the clock. Welker finished with 104 receiving yards and caught a TD pass.