by Scott Benson

After a tense opening quarter and a half, during which both teams were content to battle simply for field position, this one is suddenly slipping away from the Patriots.

The Denver Broncos scored 10 points in the last five minutes of the first half and for the second straight home game, the Patriots left for halftime to a chorus of boos from their own fans.

The Patriots simply are not a very good football team right now. They look lifeless, and they’ve lost any life they had in the stands.

Denver has been able to move the ball on the ground with Tatum Bell, and once again Patriots fans are subjected to the maddening sight of a Broncos back regularly running free in the Patriots secondary. Jake Plummer, who had been busy stinking up the league before arriving in New England, suddenly is the model of efficiency, hitting several third down conversions to set up the game’s first score, a Jason Elam field goal, and a late touchdown ( a 32 yard Plummer throw to Javon Walker, who muscled through Ellis Hobbs for the score) that warned of further trouble for the reeling Patriots.

New England’s running game has been shut down completely, and Tom Brady looks hopeless whenever he heads back to pass. Fine, the Pats bumbled away his top two receivers; he’s still playing like horseshit, and his hangdog expressions aren’t helping anybody. The rest of the team looks to Brady, and the message he’s giving them right now is the worst possible one.

To add insult to injury, literally, the Patriots have lost Matt Light (a leg injury when Corey Dillon rolled up on him) and Dillon himself (arm). Laurence Maroney can’t get anything started in relief of Dillon, but Wesley Britt held his own while filling in for Light.

The Patriots have to pull one out of their ass now. Unless the quarterback wipes his nose and gets over it, and the defense digs in their heels and takes away Bell, we’re going to end up with an all too familar result.