Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton throws Patriots QB Tom Brady to the ground for a sack in the third quarter Sunday. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)
The AFC Championship game was a defensive battle from start to finish. The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning did just enough to end the New England Patriots hopes of returning to the Super Bowl.
Who knew that a Patriots missed extra point kick in the first quarter would play a huge part in the final minutes of the game.
Trailing in the fourth quarter the Patriots scored on a 4 yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski with 12 seconds left in regulation. Down 20-18, in part because of the missed extra point, the Patriots had to go for two points. The Broncos defense, with five sacks and one interception on the day, got another interception in the end zone and all but sealed the fate of the Patriots.
Sometime during the game (actually twice in the fourth quarter) Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it, unsuccessfully, on 4th down instead of kicking the field goal. The field goals that wasn't could've changed the strategy and chances for the Patriots down the stretch, but hindsight is a painful viewing point from the seat of the losing team.
It'll be the Denver Broncos with 39 year old Peyton Manning trying to cap his great career with a championship.
As I finish writing that last line the Carolina Panthers quarterback just completed a long precision pass to former 49er receiver Ted Ginn, again. Both Panthers players are having a helluva first half as Carolina leads the game 27-7.
Carolina defense has all but shutdown Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense. I'd say this game is over, unless Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald can find a way to play defense effectively, because Cam Newton is performing like........Superman!
Wow, Cam just ran past and through Arizona defenders for a first down and now a diving touchdown. And wouldn't you know it, the Carolina stadium is playing the theme song to "Superman the Movie."
34-7 Panthers with 2:08 left in the 3rd quarter.
(Final Score Panthers 49 Cardinals 15)
Panthers vs Broncos Super Bowl here in the San Francisco Bay Area.