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DENVER — Since dropping a Week 15 game at Miami, the Patriots had strung together three straight victories mostly on the strength of their ground attack, which had gained the most rushing yards in team history over any three-game span since 1983.
Facing the Broncos on Sunday for the right to go to Super Bowl XLVIII, the Patriots saw any momentum they had built the past month running the football come to a crashing halt. So, too, their dreams of winning a fourth Lombardi Trophy.
An offense that had averaged more than 39 points over the last three games and featured more run plays than pass plays in each looked nothing like that in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. The Patriots could generate just 64 yards on the ground.