The Broncos dashed the Patriots hopes of returning to the Super Bowl Sunday, delivering a 20-18 loss at Mile High Stadium. The game came down to a failed 2-point conversion attempt for the Pats, after scoring a touchdown on fourth down to bring the game to 18-20.
The Pats offensive line struggled to protect Brady, who was under duress from the Broncos pass rush all afternoon, forcing him to hurry his throws.
First Quarter: Denver dominated the first quarter of the game, not allowing the Patriot’s to get much started on offense. The Broncos struck first on a 21-yard TD pass to Owen Daniels.
The Patriots got the ball back when they recovered a dropped pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage by Peyton Manning. This turnover cost Denver, as Patriots running back Steven Jackson ran for a 3 yard touchdown. However, Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point attempt, making the score at the end of the first quarter 7-6 Broncos.
Second Quarter: Peyton Manning connected with Owen Daniels again in the second half for the Broncos’ second touchdown of the game. The Pats responded with a 46-yard field goal to make the game 14-9.
Near the end of the half, the Broncos tacked on another field goal. The players went into the locker room with Denver leading 17-9.
Third Quarter: Defense was the story of the third quarter, as the Patriots scored one field goal while shutting down the Denver offense. Both teams struggled to run the ball all game long, and the quarter ended with the score at 12-17.
Fourth Quarter: The Broncos opened the fourth quarter with a field goal, to put the Patriots down 12-20. Because of Gostkowski missed field goal, the Patriots were down by 8 points instead of 7, meaning they needed a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game.
The Patriots were able to get the ball into the red zone, and decided to go for it on 4th and 6 instead of kicking the field goal. This attempt failed, giving the Broncos the ball with 2:30 left in the game.
The Pats used 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning to stop the clock, and the Pats defense forced the Broncos to punt. The Patriots regained possession of the ball with 1:52 to go and only one timeout left. They marched down the field. Rob Gronkowski came through for the Patriots making an excellent catch on fourth down to keep the Pats alive and bring them into the red zone.
The game came down to a fourth and goal situation with 17 seconds left. Rob Gronkowski saved the Pats again with a clutch touchdown catch to make the score 18-20. Now, the Patriots needed only the 2-point conversion to tie the game—due to the missed extra point in the first quarter. The whole season came down to this. But Tom Brady’s, intended again for Gronkowski, pass was tipped and intercepted, ending the Patriots’ Super Bowl hopes.
Broncos fans rejoiced, having beat the Patriots in the AFC championship for the second time in three years. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers, who are coming off a 49-15 blowout against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title, in the Super Bowl February 7th at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.