Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Denver Broncos past the New England Patriots for a 26-16 victory in the AFC Championship on Jan. 19 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo.
With the win, the Broncos (15-3) advanced to the Super Bowl.
Manning’s performance silenced critics who claimed he couldn’t beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in a head-to-head big game. Manning had lost 10 of 14 matchups against Brady and New England throughout his career.
But Manning was perfect in the AFC title game Jan. 19, completing 32-of-43 pass attempts for 400 yards and two touchdowns.
Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas caught one of Manning’s touchdown passes in the third quarter, which gave Denver a 20-3 lead. Thomas finished with seven catches for 134 yards and tight end Julius Thomas had eight catches for 85 yards.
Unlike Manning, Brady struggled early in the game, leading the Patriots to just three first-half points. The Patriots had opportunities to make some big plays on offense, but Brady misses of deep downfield receivers on two different occasions darkened New England’s chances of keeping up with Manning in the race for points. Brady completed 24 of 38 pass attempts for 277 yards and a touchdown.
Brady and the Patriots have now lost their last two trips to the AFC Championship, having been defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012-13 season conference title game.
Manning will play in his third Super Bowl, having won the 2006-07 season Super Bowl and lost the 2009-10 Super Bowl.