The Denver Broncos punched a ticket to next month’s Super Bowl 50 with a thrilling 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday.
Despite Broncos playing on their home turf, at the Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Patriots were considered strong favorites going into the game. In fact, most oddsmakers had Tom Brady and the Patriots winning their fifth Super Bowl championship in a few weeks. |Final Box Score|
Peyton Manning, 39, defied age and injuries to lead his team to their second Super Bowl in four seasons. Manning finished 17 for 31 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. (Watch Full Video Highlights Above)
The Broncos’ top-notch defense stifled the Patriots all throughout the game, causing two interceptions and four sacks of Brady. With 12 seconds remaining, Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby denied Brady’s attempt at a denied a two-point conversion which would have tied the game.
Gostkowski blunder costs Pats
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is still kicking himself over a missed extra point attempt that forced the defending champions into a game-tying two-point conversion that was eventually intercepted. Following Steven Jackson’s 1-yard touchdown run, Gostkowski had the opening to send the game into extra time. It was Gostkowski’s first such miss in the span of nine years.
After the defeat, Gostkowski took the blame for the loss. “It’s kind of a cruel reality that it came down to that (possession). I just feel awful about it. It was my fault, 100 percent. I just didn’t hit a good kick,” Gostkowski rued after the Patriots’ season came to an end Sunday.
Gostkowski, Patriots’ Mr Dependable over the years, missed a similar extra-point opportunity only once before in his career – against the Tennessee Titans in his rookie season in 2006. “I feel terrible. It’s a nightmare scenario. That’s how I feel. I let a lot of people down,” Gostkowski said of his miss.
Manning 3 -1 Brady when it matters most…
Manning is now 6-11 in his series against Brady, but 3-1 with the AFC title on the line. Manning also leads 3-2 against Brady in the postseason. “Well, it’s been a special rivalry over the course of my career against the Patriots, the entire organization. To play four times in the AFC championship with so much on the line, those games have been very special,” Manning said after leading the Denver Broncos to their eighth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
After the game, it was revealed that Manning made $2 million in incentives for the AFC title victory. The stalwart stands to earn another $2 million if he plays 70 percent of his snaps in Super Bowl 50.
Denver Broncos will face the winner of Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.