The more this continues, one might think Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't as clutch as his legacy suggests.
Not that it was much his fault. It'd be extremely difficult to have a bigger performance in a conference championship game than Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
The Broncos racked up over 500 yards - 400 of them from Manning on a 32-for-43 passing game, throwing two touchdowns in the process - as Denver advance to Super Bowl XLVIII with a 26-16 win over New England.
Brady was hit, flustered and confused all afternoon by Denver's defense, failed to guide his team to the end zone until 9:27 left in the fourth quarter. To that point, he had completed 13-of-22 passes for 142 yards and no touchdowns.
The Broncos offense was mostly unstoppable, but it was clear in this game just how far off that pace the Patriots offense is. Brady was asked, as usual, to shoulder much of the load and New England simply did not have the playmakers to stand toe-to-toe with Denver's defense. Almost as if they were daring the Patriots to continue throwing, the Broncos played with seven defensive backs on multiple third downs and still got pressure on him.
The bulk of Brady's stats came when the Broncos were up three scores late in the fourth quarter, including his six-yard touchdown run that brought the Patriots within 26-16.
The Patriots failed to recover the onside kick attempt after that touchdown, and the Broncos ran the clock out for the win.
- Patriots at Broncos AFC Championship game open thread
- Steelers 2014 Roster Projections: Nose tackles
- Weekend Checkdown: the top stories of the week
- 2014 NFL Playoff Schedule: Patriots vs. Broncos game time, TV broadcast, online stream, odds, weather and more
- 2014 NFL Playoff Schedule: 49ers vs. Seahawks game time, TV broadcast, online stream, odds, weather and more