Patriots fall short against the Broncos in AFC Championship - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Patriots fall short against the Broncos in AFC Championship

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FOX 25 will broadcast Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.

DENVER, Colo. (MyFoxBoston.com) –The Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots 26 to 16 in the AFC Championship Sunday. The Broncos will play the winner of the NFC Championship Sunday, Feb. 2 on FOX 25.

The Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers battled it out in the NFC Championship Sunday evening.

Though Manning threw for 400 yards, it was far from a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment of the NFL's two best quarterbacks of their generation. 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: A pair of scoring drives that lasted a few seconds over seven minutes; they were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for the Broncos (15-3).

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

From there, it was catch-up time for Brady and the Pats (13-5), and they are not built for that.

A team that averaged more than 200 yards on the ground the last three games didn't have much quick-strike capability. Brady, who threw for most of his 277 yards in comeback mode, actually led the Patriots 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.

This game started getting out of hand at about the same time Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib went out with a knee injury. Nobody else could cover Thomas and Manning, who finds mismatches even under the toughest of circumstances, found this one quickly.

Leading 13-3, Denver got the ball to start the third quarter — working the plan to perfection after winning the coin toss and deferring the choice — and Manning hit Thomas for 15 and 4 yards as part of the 80-yard, 7:08 touchdown drive that gave Denver the 17-point lead.

The thought this week was that the Patriots were playing with house money, having well exceeded expectations for a team that lost a number of stars — Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski — and has been plagued by injuries all year.

But a loss is a loss and facts are facts. Bill Belichick is stuck on three titles and hasn't won one since the NFL busted him for the Spygate videotaping scandal.

The Broncos, meanwhile, got over a big hump last week by beating the Chargers in the divisional round, which is where last year's trip fizzled unexpectedly against Baltimore.

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