Manning beats Brady thanks to Denver defense
Let’s make one thing clear from the start. Peyton Manning did not beat Tom Brady in the 2016 AFC Championship game. Brady was rattled to the bone by a Denver defense that was ready, relentless and ruthless. The final score was 20-18, but it never felt that close.
The Broncos were all over Brady from start to finish. Brady appeared rattled at times, and for good reason- he was scurrying for his life. Brady absorbed 23 hits and seemed to be on his back more than his feet. After a night of frustration and physical punishment, Brady brought his team back, and for maybe a moment New England felt a another miracle finish was within their grasp.
But there would be no Brady magic this time.
A Brady touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 12 seconds left the Patriots with one last chance to tie the game with a 2 point conversion. But it was not to be. A hassled and hurried Brady rolled to his right then threw a pass toward Edelman that was deflected by Talib into the waiting hands of Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby. Game, set and match.
“I wish the two-point play would have been different. I’m sure everyone can look at different plays throughout the game when it’s that close and say, ‘Man, I wish I would have made that play.’ But I’m proud of the way we fought, and we certainly fought until the end.”
Imagine the hype we will hear over the next two weeks heading to Super Bowl 50. The 39 year-old Manning will be the obvious story line, and for good reason. Manning has been injured. He’s been benched. He’s been intercepted too many times to count. The cerebral quarterback looked anything but smart. We will hear time and time again how Manning saved himself from the dregs of his career. The slow footed, weak armed, and over commercialized quarterback now has the chance to get to the mountaintop with a Super Bowl win.
Manning’s team will now face the freight train that is the Carolina Panthers. Good luck with that.
The Patriots are back home pondering why they can’t win in Denver where Brady is now 2 and 7. The Brady Bunch was finally at full strength. Brady had all his weapons, but the Denver D smothered his go-to guys from start to finish.
The karma was off for the Patriots early when kicker Stephan Gostkowski missed an extra point in the first quarter. Gostkwoski had kicked an incredible 523 extra points in row, a stretch of pinpoint execution that goes back to 2006. The kicker was particularly hard n himself after the game. “I feel like I lost the game. I feel sorry for myself, but I don’t expect people to feel sorry for me,” Gostkowski said, via Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe.
Neither Tom Brady nor Stephan Gostkowski lost this game for the Patriots. The Denver defense won it. Just as the New York Giants defense won it when the Patriots lost their perfect season. Somewhere out there Tom Coughlin must be smiling.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had their last tango . Manning is off to the big dance. Brady will be off to the beaches of Costa Rica with Giselle and the kids. Not a bad Plan B.
The Patriots are left licking their wounds. And no one is feeling the pain more than TB12.