The Denver Broncos would defeat the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field to win the AFC Championship and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. Peyton Manning completed 32-of-42 passes for 400 yards, including 2 touchdown passes that were caught by Jacob Tamme and Demaryius Thomas. Denver’s defense did a good job in limited the Patriots offense to just 16 points as the Broncos will take on the winner of the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
The Denver Broncos set the tempo in the second half after receiving the ball. Peyton Manning was on top of his game as he found wide receiver Eric Decker on the left sidelines for a gain of 18 yards for the first. Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball led a steady rushing attack as Moreno would pick up a gain of six while Ball picked up a gain of four. On 1st and goal, Manning would strike with wide-out Demaryius Thomas on a 3-yard touchdown pass putting the Broncos up 20-3 on the Patriots. The drive consisted on 13 plays for 80 yards while chewing up 7:08 of the clock.
The Patriots would try to answer on their next drive as Tom Brady converted a key 3rd and 1 pass to Austin Collie for 7-yards and the first. On their next third down, Brady would find Collie yet again for 12 yards, moving the chains. The Patriots faced another 3rd and 2 and Brady’s pass across the middle to Shane Vereen would be deflected and incomplete as the Patriots elected to keep their offense on the field. On that 4th and 2, Tom Brady would drop back to pass and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton would come up with a big sack as the Patriots turned it over on downs.
On Denver’s ensuing drive, Peyton Manning found Julius Thomas on 2nd and 12 for a gain of 12 yards and the first-down. He would also hit Demaryius Thomas for a big gain for a second-straight first-down. On 2nd and 13, Manning would hit his go-to tight-end Julius Thomas for a big gain of 14 yards. On 3rd and goal however, Manning would throw a fade to Julius who was unable to come down with the ball, forcing Denver to kick the field goal. Matt Prater would knock down the 19-yard field-goal attempt as the Broncos took the 23-3 lead on a 9 play, 63-yard drive that lasted 5:23.
The Patriots would answer back as Tom Brady led his team down the field on a 9 play, 80-yard drive that lasted just 2:36. Brady would strike with Collie and Julian Edelman for two big gains on the first two plays of the drive. On a 4th and 3, Brady would hit Shane Vereen on the left sidelines for the first down. On 2nd and goal, Brady would find his favorite target Edelman for the 7-yard touchdown reducing Denver’s lead to 23-10. Denver would respond to the Patriots touchdown drive with a 6 play, 39-yard drive that consisted of a Matt Prater 54-yard field goal to bring the Broncos lead up to 26-10.
Tom Brady and his Patriots would not go down without a fight as the quarterback completed a big pass to Austin Collie for a gain of 18 yards and the first down. Brady would keep rolling as he found Edelman across the middle for 7 yards, setting up a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Brady himself and the Patriots looked for the two-point conversion to bring the game within eight. They would run a rushing play to Shane Vereen who was stuffed for no gain as Denver led by ten, 26-16. New England would go for the onside kick that was caught by Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker and taken out-of-bounds at the 49 yard line.
It would be all Denver Broncos from here on out as Peyton Manning hit Jacob Tamme for a 23-yard play-action pass to burn New England’s second timeout. On 3rd and 3, Montee Ball would rush up the middle for one yard as Denver faced a 4th and 2 with the clock running. You would think they would run out the clock and take the field goal but Denver chose to run on 4th and 2 and it paid off as Montee Ball collected the first down on a 3-yard run as Denver came away with the AFC Championship, defeating the Patriots 26-16.
The Denver Broncos will face the winner of the San Francisco 49ers/Seattle Seahawks game that is scheduled for 6:30 PM ET, 4:30 PM MT tonight in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, February 2nd.