DENVER -- It was a chilly day as the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos reunited for a playoff rematch. As fans shivered, the Broncos did what they could to quell the stampeding Patriots, but it wouldn't be enough.
Not many expected the Broncos to prevail, but the defense did put up a good fight. The Patriots had won four in a row before coming to Denver, indicative of their now 12-2 season.
The Broncos had some advantages, however. The run-game for the Patriots hadn't been stellar, and the No Fly Zone the Broncos boast can handle the toothy threat that is Tom Brady.
It led to a low-scoring game, in which Tom Brady's offense scored only one touchdown. It would be enough to put the nail in the Broncos coffin.
Denver couldn't do enough in return to match New England's production, nor could the Broncos overcome repeated errors.
Here are five factors that led to the disappointing loss.
In the first half alone, the Broncos committed two turnovers, allowing the Patriots to put points on the board. That's something the Broncos aren't quite great at.
What the Broncos are good at is creating turnovers and winning when turnovers are in their favor. That wouldn't happen.
Trevor Siemian committed the second pick, with Jordan Norwood committing the first. Both recovered, but their contributions wouldn't outweigh their errors.
2.) Offense lets down the defense.
The Broncos defense held the league leading scorer in the first quarter to only three points. That, the Broncos offense could match.
While the defense allowed several more scoring drives, they surely slowed down the stampeding Patriots, a team that averaged nearly 30 points scored in each of their last eight wins.
3.) Special teams incapable of performing.
A turnover on the first Broncos punt return is indicative of poor play by the special teams unit throughout the season. Norwood committed other similar errors throughout the season.
When the Broncos offense could have had their first possession and an opportunity to score, they instead allowed the Patriots to score. Those trades aren't favorable or surmountable.
Injuries continue to plague the Broncos. Both Virgil Green and Derek Wolfe left the game with injuries. Those are in addition to other injuries, like those that plague the running back corps, that hold the team back from frequent success.
5.) Missed catches, missed opportunities.
The Broncos effectively have two receivers who make plays consistently. That's Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
Although they have additional receivers on the roster, many fail to make plays or catches when push comes to shove.
The lack of success for the receiving corps isn't on Trevor Siemian, whose passes are mostly accurate and crisp. The lack of success could be on coaching, or on talent or skill. Whatever it may be, it holds the offense back.
Opposing defenses are too easily able to shut down half of Denver's meaningful receptions, resulting in more pitiful three-and-outs.
So with the loss to the Patriots, the Broncos desperately need to win out in order to make it into the postseason with a wildcard win.
Lucky -- or unluckily -- the Broncos will get rematches with their division rivals in both the Raiders and the Chiefs. Both are slated to make the postseason, and wins could improve Denver's bid for a postseason slot.