AFC Championship Game Review: Broncos End Patriots Season 26-16

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Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (27) is tackled by New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (37) in the first half during the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

THIRD QUARTER:

 

Denver received the second half kickoff and Denver began with big passing plays with cornerback Aqib Talib still on the sidelines. Moving quickly into New England territory. The New England defense was unable to generate pressure and the Broncos receivers kept getting separation from the defensive backs. A big third-and-three at the New England 20 yard line saw Manning again converting against the New England offense for the sixth time in nine opportunities. Inside the ten, Denver had another third-and-three which Denver converted with running back Montee Ball. More than seven minutes into the second half saw Manning convert to Demaryius Thomas in the end zone beating Alfonzo Dennard to make it 20-3 Denver midway through the third quarter and shortening the game considerably.

 

By the time New England got the ball it was a matter of needing touchdowns on every drive to have a hope of staying in the game.  After driving inside the Denver 30 yard line, the Patriots offense stalled again. On a critical fourth-and-three left guard Logan Mankins completely whiffed on a block of defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and he sacked quarterback Tom Brady to end the drive.

 

In need of a stop, the defense again donned their matador costumes and let Denver continue to drive and convert first downs. No pressure on Peyton Manning continued to be another part of the game as the Broncos methodically moved into the fourth quarter without nary an ounce of resistance.

 

FOURTH QUARTER:

 

The fourth quarter continued with the Broncos shredding the Patriots defense. Only an incompletion in the end zone forcing a field goal slowed the Broncos drive at the one yard line. The field goal made it 23-3 Broncos.

 

The Patriots finally put together a scoring drive, but by then it was far too little and far too late. Brady marched New England downfield finding Michael Hoomanawanui, Austin Collie, Shane Vereen, and Julian Edelman as the Broncos defense stepped back a step knowing the clock was on their side. The Patriots finally found the end zone as Brady found Edelman from seven yards out.

 

Unfortunately, the defense could not make a big play or stop.  Targeting rookie linebacker Jamie Collins in coverage of tight end Julius Thomas the Broncos picked up 37 yards. Manning dropped it right over the top of the rookie linebacker and although the drive stalled, a 54 yard Matt Prater field goal made it 26-10 Denver.

 

With the clock ticking under seven minutes to start the drive, New England moved the ball slowly downfield. The clock kept ticking down to 3:07 as Brady called draws to Shane Vereen on multiple plays to pick up yards. After finding Austin Collie and Julian Edelman over the middle, Brady ran the ball in himself from the five yard line. With a two-point conversion needed to cut the score to eight points, the Patriots could not punch it in with Vereen.

 

A failed onside kick gave the ball to Denver near mid-field and as they ran down the clock the game was essentially over.

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