Live coverage: Tebow turnover sets up 14-0 New England lead
Denver's first drive crossed midfield as the left-handed Tim Tebow dropped back and looked to pass. New England outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich hit him from behind, causing the fumble that linebacker Brandon Spikes recovered.
With that and a 7-0 lead in hand, quarterback Tom Brady distributed passes to tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to move the top-seeded hosts to Denver's 17-yard line.
Brady then found Gronkowski again, this time in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. The catch was reviewed after Gronkowski at first bobbled the ball, but replays affirmed the catch and New England leads 14-0 with 6:42 left in the first quarter.
Photo: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski makes a 10-yard touchdown catch while being defended by Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman in the first half Saturday night. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press