Sunday, January 19, 2014

AFC Championship Game Recap

     So Peyton Manning beat Tom Brady today, marking the third team in Manning's career that he will have the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Broncos were the better, more talented team on all fronts, which was evident in this game. Even though it is difficult to call Manning the superior quarterback over Brady, he sure made an excellent case to be called one of the greatest.

     The Patriots defense had absolutely no response for Denver's passing game, and as soon as Aqib Talib was knocked out of the game following a questionable pick by Wes Welker, it was clear the Patriots would be in trouble. Once Talib walked back to the locker room, cornerback Alfanzo Dennard was to cover a more talented wide receiver in Pro-Bowler Demaryius Thomas. Even if Manning didn't feel like targeting Demaryius, receivers like Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas always seemed to be open. The Patriots failed to create any sort of pressure on Manning, which was key for New England entering this game. Manning's safety in the pocket, as well as his abundance of talented receivers, allowed him to throw for exactly 400 yards and 2 touchdowns. At one point in the game, Denver was able to score on 5 consecutive drives, which further proves the uselessness of New England's defense in today's game; however, Patriots fans should not be too upset. Their team had a shot at a trip to the Super Bowl, which is absolutely astounding considering they were playing without Vince Wilfork, Jerard Mayo, Aqib Talib, and Rob Gronkowski in today's game.

     The ultimate winner from today's game is obviously Peyton Manning. By marching his team up field time and time again, he successfully kept Tom Brady off of the field for the majority of the game, and this consistency allowed the Broncos to score on 5 consecutive drives. Not only did Peyton win this game, but he also proved that he is just as good a quarterback as Tom Brady, and another Super Bowl ring for Peyton would allow him to be called the greatest quarterback in NFL history. I'm not completely sold on Manning, though, considering the plethora of talent that has surrounded Manning throughout his accomplished career. From Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in Indy to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker in Denver, there is no denying that Manning has been blessed with a skillful group of players year in and year out.

     The biggest loser of the AFC Championship Game is New England's offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels continuously tried to rush the ball with LeGarrette Blount throughout the first half, instead of relying on the player that got them there in the first place (Tom Brady). By the time New England started passing the ball, it was already too late, and as if it wasn't bad enough, McDaniels tried to run the ball on a two point conversion, and unsurprisingly, it was unsuccessful. Brady's frustration was clear during the first half, but you can't blame the guy that has put the team on his back since the start of training camp.

     The fact that Bill Belicick and Tom Brady were able to lead the Patriots into the AFC Championship Game is mind boggling. This ragtag group of players earned the second seed in the playoffs, beat the Colts and the Divisional Round, and put up a good fight against a clearly superior Denver Broncos team.

     The bottom line is that the best team from the AFC will be able to play for the Super Bowl, which is not always true. Denver's offense is scary this season, and the Patriots, to be honest, didn't stand a chance. Congratulations to Manning and the Broncos, and good luck to the Patriots next season.

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