The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will go head-to-head in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 19th. The two teams have already met once this season as the Patriots would come away with the win after a special teams mishap by the Broncos, setting up a game-winning field goal for the Patriots as they came away with the victory 34-31.
What: AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots (2) vs. Denver Broncos (1)
When: Sunday, January 19th
Where: Sports Authority Field, Denver, Colorado
Time: 3:00 PM ET, 1:00 PM MT
The Patriots would come away with the 34-31 win via overtime as Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski sealed the deal. New England rallied down from 24-0 at halftime, to outscoring Denver 34-7 in the second half and overtime. Denver was huge on the ground however with running back Knowshon Moreno who rushed for a career-high 224 yards on 37 carries including a touchdown. Quarterback Peyton Manning struggled in the New England wind as he completed just 19-of-36 passes for 150 yards, but would record two touchdown passes with one interception. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played mistake free football completing 34-of-50 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski would be huge in the win as they combined for three touchdown catches, two from Edelman.
AFC Divisional Round Match-Up Summaries:
January 11th: New England Patriots defeat Indianapolis Colts, 43-22:
Quarterback Tom Brady didn’t have to do much in the win against the Colts as the Pats relied heavily on the run game. Running back LeGarrette Blount stole the show as he carried the ball 24 times for 166 yards including 4 touchdowns. Stevan Ridley would be successful as well as their other running back carried the ball 14 times netting 52 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brady would pass the ball just 25 times while completing 13 of them for 198 yards. New England’s secondary played a big part in the win as well as cornerback Alfonzo Dennard would intercept Andrew Luck twice. Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower would also record interceptions.
January 12th: Denver Broncos defeat San Diego Chargers, 24-17:
Quarterback Peyton Manning was on his A-game despite an interception late in the second quarter that bounced off of the chest of wide-out Eric Decker. Manning completed 25-of-36 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball delivered a tough one-two punch as they combined for 33 carries that equaled to 134 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown. For more on the Chargers-Broncos game, Here is the recap on MileHighManiac.com. The Denver Broncos defense came to play despite heavy criticism throughout the week. They accounted for four sacks on Phillip Rivers, two coming from former Charger Shaun Phillips. They would blank the San Diego Chargers for three-quarters, as Chris Harris was ruled out for the rest of the game due to ankle/knee injuries. The secondary got exposed in the fourth as they allowed 17 points but hung on and got the win, 24-17.
Keys to the Game:
New England Patriots: Keep Denver Guessing:
The New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos specifically in the passing game as Tom Brady passed for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns. Now they have a rejuvenated run game that they haven’t seen since Corey Dillon was a member of the team. The team would rush for 234 yards on 46 carries in their AFC Divisional Round Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Denver Broncos: Keep Applying The Pressure:
The Denver Broncos did a good job on defense in the first three-quarters against the San Diego Chargers by holding them to just 79 yards and sacked Phillip Rivers four times. The Denver defense was ridiculed all week about how they couldn’t stop a nose bleed and surprised everyone by goose-egging the Bolts for three-consecutive quarters. The offense will be fine it will come down to stopping Tom Brady. Denver will be without cornerback Chris Harris after tearing his ACL in the Divisional Round Game against the Chargers.