Denver Broncos Defense Comes up HUGE, Win 20-18

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) at the line of scrimmage during the second half in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) at the line of scrimmage during the second half in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos pulled of a nail-biting win behind an impressive performance from their defense, advance to Super Bowl 50 after defeating Patriots 20-18.

The Denver Broncos entered their home matchup in the AFC Championship game as underdogs to Tom Brady and company; however, the Denver Broncos were victorious in the regular season matchup between these two teams. The New England Patriots were without Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski suffered an injury late in the game that turned the Patriots on their ear.

Next: Denver Broncos: Keys to Victory in AFC Championship

With the Patriots at full strength, they looked to travel on the road to take on the Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos turned to elite game manager Peyton Manning to bring home a win and a trip to the Super Bowl. If the Denver Broncos were to make the Super Bowl, it would be the team’s second appearance in three seasons. Moreover, this could be Peyton Manning’s last opportunity to add another Super Bowl title to his illustrious career.

The Denver Broncos looked to lean heavily on their top-rated defense, with Von Miller, Chris Harris, and T.J. Ward leading the way. Tom Brady torched this defense the last time these two teams met, with him registering 280 yards and three scores. Also, Rob Gronkowski routinely found himself open, recording two scores in the previous contest. The Denver Broncos knew they needed to contain “Gronk” if they wanted to have success against a potent Patriots offense. 

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The Denver Broncos won the opening kickoff, and they decided to defer to the second half, giving the Patriots the ball on the opening kickoff. The New England Patriots could not get anything going in their first drive of the football game, having to punt after five plays. However, the Denver Broncos came out poised to make some noise. The Denver Broncos managed to put together an 11-play, 83-yard drive, capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Owen Daniels.

With the Denver Broncos up 7-0 early, the Patriots found themselves down early in the first quarter, but it was not until under two minutes that they finally got on the board. After a costly fumble by Ronnie Hillman, the Patriots had good field position, and they ultimately scored on a Steven Jackson one-yard rush. However, Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT, ending his otherwordly record to consecutive makes, and the Patriots found themselves down 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the Denver Broncos forced their first turnover, with Von Miller intercepting Tom Brady deep inside Patriots territory. Three plays later, Peyton Manning connected with Owen Daniels, again, for a 12-yard touchdown. The touchdown put the Denver Broncos up 14-6, and it marked the second touchdown of the half for both Manning and Daniels.

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The second quarter remained relatively quiet, with both the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots scoring field goals; moreover, Brandon McManus tacked on his field goal with just 30 seconds remaining in the first half to extend the Denver Broncos’ lead to eight points (17-9). Also, the Denver Broncos forced another turnover, this time, Darian Stewart came down with an interception off of Tom Brady, the second time the Denver Broncos picked him off in the first half.

The third quarter between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots remained relatively quiet outside of a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. With the field goal, the Patriots trimmed their deficit to five points (17-12). Also, notably, Von Miller accumulated another sack, giving him 2.5 on the day, setting the Denver Broncos’ single-game postseason record. Moreover, Miller is the first play to ever sack and intercept Tom Brady in the same game.

The Denver Broncos opened the fourth quarter with the football, and C.J. Anderson put together the best run of the day for the team, a 30 yard scamper to the left. Despite a strong performance by Anderson on the drive, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos could not find the end zone, having to settle for a field goal by McManus. With the field goal, the Denver Broncos were up eight (20-12) with 10 minutes remaining in the game. 

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  • On the following drive, the New England Patriots managed to get in Denver Broncos territory. While in field goal position, the Patriots faced a crucial fourth down situation, where Bill Belichick decided to go for it, because a field goal did nothing for the Patriots. On fourth down, Tom Brady ran a bootleg play; however, the Denver Broncos sniffed out the play, with Chris Harris making a clutch tackle on Julian Edelman behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover-on-downs.

    The Denver Broncos could not do anything with the ball, quickly punting to the Patriots with close to five minutes remaining in the game. With the Patriots down eight, Tom Brady turned to superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski to help with the passing attack. After finding Gronkowski and James White, the Patriots were inside the Denver Broncos’ 10-yard line. Faced with another fourth down attempt, Tom Brady was under pressure and threw a jump ball to the back of the end zone; however, Gronkowski could not haul in the pass, resulting in a turnover on downs.

    Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos took over possession inside their own 20-yard line, looking to run the clock down and not give Brady another attempt to tie the game. The Patriots forced a three-and-out for the Denver Broncos, with Malcolm Butler almost coming away with an interception on third down. However, the Denver Broncos punted away the ball, giving Tom Brady and the Patriots one last chance to tie the game, with just under two minutes remaining in the game.

    The Denver Broncos continued to get to Brady on the day, hurrying the quarterback twice on the final drive. On fourth-and-10, Tom Brady connected on an impressive pass to Rob Gronkowski to bring the Patriots within the 10-yard line. The Denver Broncos’ defense forced another fourth down, but with 17 seconds remaining the Patriots were going for it. The AFC Championship came down to the last play of the game.

    Tom Brady connected with Gronkowski for the touchdown to bring the Patriots within two points of tying the game. They needed to convert the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime, an improbably feat considering how many times they converted on fourth down. On the two-point attempt, the Denver Broncos’ defense got to Brady, forced him to throw the ball under duress, and Bradley Roby came away with the interception to seal the win.

    Next: Denver Broncos: Keys to Victory in AFC Championsip

    The Denver Broncos’ defense came up HUGE in today’s win against the Patriots, constantly putting pressure on Tom Brady. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware played an impressive game and helped bring the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl. Now, the Denver Broncos just have one game ahead of them from being crowned Super Bowl champions. They will either face the Cardinals or Panthers in Super Bowl 50. What a game.