The rules of engagement in the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry came through, as the home team, the Denver Broncos, came away with the 26-16 win over the New England Patriots, claiming the AFC Championship game and earning a spot in Super Bowl XLVII.
John Fox becomes the sixth head coach to take multiple teams to the Super Bowl (lost with the Panthers to the Patriots 10 years ago). Manning will try and become the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to the Super Bowl title.
It wasn’t close, despite the 10 point difference. Everything seemed to come easily for the Broncos, finishing with 507 total yards on offense, getting points on all of their drives except for the first one which was a punt. The Patriots started the game with a quick three-and-out, punting on their first three drives and scoring only 3 points in the first half.
One can say it was a game of offensive lines, in which the Broncos won big. Manning was hardly hurried and never sacked. He had time to survey, correct, find passes. He completed 32-of-43 passes for 400 yards and a couple of touchdown passes: the first to Jacob Tamme in the second quarter and the other being a short pass to Demaryius Thomas, putting Denver up 20-3 entering the fourth quarter.
Tom Brady didn’t turn the ball over, but no one expected so many bad passes from such a great quarterback, who was sacked twice. The Patriots knew what they were doing last week by putting the ball in the hands of the running backs: Brady doesn’t have the receivers to win a game with passing alone.
Denver allowed only 64 rushing yards, while Brady completed 24-of-38 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown pass. He also ran for one himself, but he’ll probably be remembered for overthrowing at least six passes, with two of them easily becoming touchdowns if he’d executed better.