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New England continues to win through the pain

New England's injury list seems to grow every week, yet the Patriots keep winning.

The Broncos must be looking on with envy.

While the Patriots have overcome their injuries and won four consecutive games, the Broncos limp into tonight's game having lost three of four.

"I think they've found a way to stop the bleeding early, and right now we still have an opportunity to stop it," Broncos running back Clinton Portis said. "We need to find a way to stop the bleeding (tonight).

"We can't let it linger on and linger on because to prolong it, we'll be out of the playoffs."

New England has 11 players on its injury report, six listed as starters. The Patriots knew linebacker Ted Johnson (foot) and nose tackle Ted Washington (leg) would be out, but receiver Troy Brown popped up on the injury report Saturday with a leg injury.

And things actually are improving.

Oct. 19 against Miami, New England had 16 players on its injury report and played without eight starters.

"It's an adjustment you have to make because you have to shuffle different guys," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. "We understand that no one feels sorry for us and we have to continue to go on and play."

The Broncos know the feeling.

Denver has 12 players, eight starters, listed on its injury report, and that doesn't include linebacker Ian Gold and backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein, who are out for the season.

In the past three weeks, the Broncos have lost two of three starting linebackers, their left tackle, third receiver and punt returner. Denver also is down to third quarterback Danny Kanell, who started the season coaching at his high school.

"No one is going to take every snap all season," Broncos receiver Rod Smith said. "The thing is, when a guy goes down that's an opportunity for other guys to step up."

New England has had players do just that. The Patriots won in Miami for the first time in 14 tries with eight rookies in uniform, and followed with a 9-3 win over Cleveland. New England is 6-2 for the sixth time and has its longest winning streak since ending the 2001 season with six straight wins.

"I think we are getting better each week," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said.

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