The Patriots lost a heart breaker to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, 20-18.
The Broncos advance to take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
The Patriots defense had a rough first quarter, allowing the Broncos to go up the field 83 yards easy and score a touchdown from Manning to tight end Owen Daniels on a busted play. The Patriots wouldn’t answer back until the Broncos threw a lateral pass that Ronnie Hillman dropped and did not pick the ball back up, instead linebacker Freeny recovered giving the Pats the football inside the redzone. Brady would hit Bolden, who would take it close to the goal line plus a flag for unnecessary roughness on a late hit by Ward, and the Patriots had the ball at the one yard line. Steven Jackson would walk in on a nice tough run. Gostkowski would miss the extra point, the first of the season for the team, and the score would be 7-6. The missed field goal would prove to be huge later on.
Brady would throw a killer interception inside the Pats own 10 yard line, setting the Broncos up for another easy score. Manning found Daniels wide open again and up go the Broncos 14-6. The Patriots would throw another interception before the half, and after a field goal and trading punts, the Broncos took the halftime lead 17-9 after adding their own field goal.
The Patriots offense fared no better in the 2nd half, they did add a field goal to start, 12-17, getting closer, but stalled again until the fourth. The Broncos would add one more field goal to make it 20-12 at the start of the fourth.
The Patriots would go on a long drive, but fail on a fourth and one with 6 minutes left. This is the play I disagreed with, I thought they should have kicked a field goal to bring the game with five with so much time left. The Patriots would get a three and out and drive the field again, only to fail on a fourth and 6th with 2:35 left and timeouts. Another time I believed they should have kicked a field goal. Plenty of time and timeouts and it would make it just a field goal away from winning, or if they had kicked the field goal before this play, a touchdown later on would have won the game. The Patriots would force another three and out before the 2 minute warning. The Patriots had 1:52 to work with after a nice Edelman return, but would miss on three tries. The fourth and 10 play saw Brady hit Gronk deep up the field for 40 yards, setting the Patriots inside the 10 yard line. A few plays later, Brady would hit Gronk on a four yard touchdown, a great play by Gronk. The Pats would be down 18-20 with 12 seconds left. The Broncos brought the heat and with no time, Brady tossed it up to a well covered Edelman and it was intercepted. Game Over. This play I would have preferred a toss up to Gronk or even Chandler.
The Patriots still have a truly great team overall this year and I’m not saying that because I’am biased, but because the Patriots do have a truly great team that never quits fighting. They have a great offense and defense, but unfortunately their biggest weakness, the OL, faced the Broncos greatest strength, their pass rush and badly lost that insanely important battle. The Patriots had a terrible game and was outplayed in this game that is very true. The Patriots had several chances to win, but Gostkowski missed an extra point, bad play calling toward the end, and no adjustment to the offensive line all cost them the game. The wide outs also struggled to get open and no running game also hurt their chances to win.
Don’t misunderstand me though, the Broncos were the better team today, their defense was the best defense on the field and in the league this season and their offense may not overwhelm you but they have been good enough and today they were just good enough to help grind out a win. The Patriots could have a made a few plays they missed to win the game, but they didn’t and it was because of the Broncos pass rush. The Denver defense took this game by force.
I think it’s to safe to say this as well….. It’s just as hard to win in Denver as it is to win in Seattle and New England.
This day, the Broncos were better and deserved to win. The Broncos have one great defense and they have pride which is why all the hype from ESPN, NFL Network, and fans had me worried. The defense in Denver wanted this game and they took it with a fearsome pass rush. Von Miller single handily killed the Pats offensive line and Ware piped in at perfect times. The Pats have no running game as well, and when they have zero confidence they can run in it from 2 yards away, they have a real problem. The Broncos defense has carried them all year and now they have carried them to the Super Bowl.
A few things are for sure as the season ends for New England, they have a great defense, the secondary is for real and the linebackers are the best in the league. They have the best tight end ever and QB to ever play the game. The coaching staff doesn’t mess up often, so they will have another legit shot at a title next year if they fix the line. The Patriots don’t quit anymore, they fight to the bitter end. The future looks bright for the Patriots.
This year, the Broncos were the best of the AFC and congrats to them!