January 19

Patriots fall short as Manning supplies all the answers

Peyton Manning throws for 400 yards, leading an efficient Denver offense in a 26-16 AFC championship game victory.

By Eddie Pells
The Associated Press

DENVER — Peyton Manning stuffed the football into his helmet and handed it to an equipment man for safekeeping.

Today's poll: Super Bowl

Which team will win the Super Bowl?

Denver Broncos

Seattle Seahawks

View Results

click image to enlarge

Patriots players on the bench watch the closing minutes of the AFC championship game Sunday at Denver. The Broncos won 26-16 to advance to the Super Bowl.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme celebrates his touchdown with Eric Decker in the first half of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at Denver.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

super bowl

WHO: Denver Broncos vs. Seattle-San Francisco winner

WHEN: 6:25 p.m. Feb. 2

WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TELEVISION: FOX

The connection: Flawless, as usual.

The keepsake: Certainly one he’ll want to hang on to.

The Broncos quarterback had an answer for everyone Sunday – from Tom Brady to the New England defense to anyone who thought he couldn’t win the big one.

Manning is taking the Broncos on a trip to New Jersey for the Super Bowl after another of his impeccably crafted victories – this time, a 26-16 win over the Patriots on Sunday in the AFC title game.

“Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl, I know how hard it is to get there,” Manning said.

Especially this time.

Only three years ago, he could barely grip a football as he started the long comeback from surgeries that ravaged his neck and nerve endings. And only 53 weeks ago, he suffered a devastating loss to Baltimore in the divisional playoffs that derailed what looked like a Super Bowl trip in his comeback season.

But Manning will get his chance for a second Super Bowl ring, after all. He’ll try to become the first starting quarterback to win one with two teams on Feb. 2 at the Meadowlands against Seattle.

“He’s been remarkable,” said Broncos Coach John Fox, off to his second Super Bowl as a head coach. “It’s unprecedented what he did.”

After packing away his football, Manning ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady. A bit later in the locker room, he celebrated with his father, Archie, and brothers Cooper and Eli, the Giants quarterback who surprised Peyton much the way Peyton surprised him by showing up at the NFC title game two years ago.

The Indy-turned-Denver quarterback improved to 5-10 lifetime against Brady, but is now 2-1 in AFC title games.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Brady said. “Certainly, he’s a great player and he played great today.”

Though Manning threw for 400 yards, it was more dink-and-dunk than a fireworks show. Manning set up four field goals by Matt Prater and put his stamp on this one with a pair of long, meticulous and mistake-free touchdown drives in which nothing came cheap.

He geared down the no-huddle, hurry-up offense that helped him set records for touchdown passes and yardage this season and made the Broncos the highest-scoring team in history. The result: 93- and 80-yard touchdown drives that each lasted more than seven minutes. They were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for Denver (15-3).

The Broncos held the ball for 35:44. They were 7 for 13 on third-down conversions.

“To keep Tom Brady on the sideline is a good thing,” Manning said. “That’s something you try to do when you’re playing the Patriots.”

Manning capped the second long drive with a 3-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas, who got inside the overmatched Alfonzo Dennard and left his feet to make the catch. It gave Denver a 20-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

From there, it was catch-up time for Brady and the Pats.

“We got in a hole there,” Brady said. “It was just too much to dig our way out.”

A team that averaged more than 200 yards on the ground the last three games couldn’t find much quick-strike capability. Brady, who threw for most of his 277 yards in comeback mode, actually led the Patriots (13-5) to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. But they were a pair of time-consuming, 80-yard drives. The second cut the deficit to 26-16 with 3:07 left, but the Broncos stopped Shane Vereen on the 2-point conversion and the celebration was on in Denver.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers in the second half Sunday’s AFC championship game at Denver.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off the field after the first half of Sunday’s AFC championship game at Denver.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Patriots free safety Devin McCourty wraps up Denver wide receiver Eric Decker in the first half Sunday in the AFC championship game at Denver.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is stopped by Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower in the first half Sunday at Denver.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before Sunday’s AFC championship at Denver.

The Associated Press

 


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


Today's poll: Super Bowl

Which team will win the Super Bowl?

Denver Broncos

Seattle Seahawks

View Results