FOXBORO - It was a tale of two halves.
That pretty much sums up Sunday night’s prime-time matchup between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos that saw a Patriots’ overtime victory.
When the teams went into their respective locker rooms at halftime, the score was 24-0 Broncos. Shortly after the start of the fourth quarter, the Patriots had come back to take a 28-24 lead.
North Attleboro resident Bill Haney, 51, a manufacturer’s representative, said a few minutes into the third quarter that he was “trying to be optimistic.”
“I’m not counting us out at all,” he said.
Little did he know just how right he would be. The Patriots went on a roll that with just seven minutes left in the game saw them with a seven point lead (31-24).
Dave Hurley, 35, said he knew it was going to be a tough game, but the Charlestown resident said during halftime that he remained optimistic.
“They can make a comeback,” he said. “If the Broncos can score 24 unanswered points in the first half, then we can score 31 in the second half. That’s my prediction: 31-24. I always have faith in our boys.”
With three minutes left in the game, the Broncos scored to tie the Patriots 31-31.
Then shortly before midnight, the game went into overtime. Even though the Patriots won the toss, they opted to kick — presumably due to the wind conditions — and with just two minutes left in overtime, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 34-31 victory.
With the temperature hovering just below 20 degrees, and heavy winds sweeping through the stadium, fans started leaving the game during halftime. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, when the score was 24-14 in favor of the Broncos, about one-third of the seats inside the nearly 69,000-seat venue were empty.
The freezing cold temperatures affected tailgaters, too. While there were some diehards who arrived early and hovered around charcoal and gas grills to keep warm, others skipped the time-honored ritual.
“We scrapped tailgating,” Haney said. “We went to a friend’s house instead.”
Mike Dichiara, 50, a general contractor from Saugus, said the colder the better for him and his friends when it comes to tailgating.
“All you need is this,” he said, holding up a can of Bud Light, “and you need to know how to dress. I’m wearing like 50 layers of clothing.”
Jennifer Collins, 26, a hairdresser from Boston, said her extra layers would keep her warm and bring the Patriots good luck.
“I have on thermals and like three Pats’ jerseys,” she said before Sunday night’s game. “They will win anyway, but all these jerseys will bring them extra luck. You wait and see.”