American Football — NFLMonday, January 20, 2014
Manning, Broncos reach Super Bowl
DENVER — Peyton Manning outshined his future Hall of Fame rival Tom Brady, firing two touchdown passes, as the Denver Broncos rolled to a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots yesterday to secure their first trip to the Super Bowl in 15 years.
The Broncos were going to learn who they will face at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on February 2 last night at press time when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship.
The AFC title game had been hyped as Manning verses Brady 15, a legacy showdown between two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever grace the gridiron.
But on a perfect day for football in the Mile High city Manning proved he could carry his record-smashing regular season form into the playoffs, tossing for 400 yards including touchdowns to Jacob Tamme and Demaryius Thomas.
The victory allowed Manning to level his playoff record against Brady at 2-2 but the New England quarterback continues to hold a decisive 10-5 edge in their all-time head to head meetings.
Manning capped the second with a three-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, and they are not built for that. A team that averaged more than 200 yards on the ground the last three weeks 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.
Manning earned a chance to improve on his already-sterling legacy, one that figures to include a fifth MVP award come Super Bowl week.