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Final: Patriots 45, Broncos 10

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  January 14, 2012 10:00 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady was deadly efficient and the Patriots were dominant defensively, beating the Denver Broncos 45-10 to shake off their playoff woes and advance to the AFC Championship.

Brady was 26 of 34 for 363 yards and six touchdowns. He broke franchise records for yards in a postseason game, touchdowns in a postseason game, and an NFL record with five touchdown passes in the first half. The Patriots amassed 509 yards of offense and faced only six third downs.

Rob Gronkowski recorded 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

The Patriots' defense was equally impressive. They held Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to 9 of 26 passing for 136 yards and the Broncos team to 252 total yards.

2:35 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Tom Brady had a 48-yard punt on third down (weird, right?) and then a rumble broke out with Denver's Von Miller in the middle of it. Multiple penalties on the play as the Broncos take over.

It was Brady's second career punt.

7:14 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Tim Tebow completed his longest pass of the night, a 41-yarder to Demaryius Thomas that got some help from a spring block by Denver running back Lance Ball. But the drive fizzled as Tebow was unable to do anything from the Patriots 3-yard line, unable to complete four straight passes. Lots of pressure from LB Rob Ninkovich and DE Shaun Ellis on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.

12:39 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 20-yard field goal as the Patriots pushed their lead back to 35 points.

The kick capped an 11-play, 78-yard drive that featured two big passes from Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. One for 20 yards and another for 28 to get the Patriots into the red zone. After three meaningless rushes from the 4- or 2-yard line, the Patriots settled for a field goal.

End of 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 10 -- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has surpassed the 100-yard mark in the game. By the end of the third quarter, he has nine catches for 117 yards and three touchdowns.

Tom Brady is an efficient 24 of 32 for 321 yards and six touchdowns.

2:19 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 10 -- Denver's Matt Prater kicked a 41-yard field goal to cap a 14-play, 58-yard drive by the Broncos that spanned 6:16.

Patriots DE Shaun Ellis recorded a big hit and sack on Tim Tebow, which got the quarterback fired up. He was seen yelling at his offensive line, and then at nobody, all at the same time.

Patriots LB Brandon Spikes also recorded a sack on the drive, getting the help of some pressure from DL Brandon Deadrick.

8:30 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- Patriots RB Stevan Ridley fumbled after catching a pass from Tom Brady. The ball was recovered by Broncos DT Marcus Thomas.

10:35 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- The defensive dominance of the Broncos continues. Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich and NT Vince Wilfork shared a sack on Denver QB Tim Tebow as the Broncos went three-and-out again.

11:46 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady tied a postseason record with his sixth touchdown of the game, this time a 17-yard strike to tight end Aaron Hernandez who high stepped his way in on the last leg of the score.

13:39 3d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- Three quick plays, including an incompletion by Tim Tebow on third down and the Patriots have the ball back in the second half.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- The first half comes to a close with the Patriots dominating this game on both ends of the field, holding the Broncos to 120 yards of offense and only 20 passing. Tim Tebow was 3 of 10 passing for 28 yards.

Tom Brady has thrown for five touchdowns already, an NFL postseason record. He's 18 of 25 passing for 246 yards and an interception.

0:05 2d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- Wasting no time with the ball in their hands, Tom Brady efficiently moved the ball down the field and hit Rob Gronkowski for a 19-yard touchdown.

Gronkowski now has the franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a game and is tied for the NFL postseason record with three. The drive was only five plays, 58 yards in 1:04.

1:16 2d quarter: Patriots 28, Broncos 7 -- The Broncos go three and out, with no help from its receiving corps. A drop from Demaryius Thomas and a drop from running back Lance Ball. Patriots take over.

1:57 2d quarter: Patriots 28, Broncos 7 -- Deion Branch still has some wheels left. The veteran wide receiver for the Patriots blew past Broncos cornerback Andre Goodman on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady.

Brady's fourth touchdown of the day marks a new postseason record for the team.

2:38 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork recorded a 4-yard sack on Denver QB Tim Tebow and defensive lineman Gerard Warren record a tackle for a 6-yard loss to force the Broncos into a 3d-and-20. The ended up punting.

4:52 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- It should be noted that with Tom Brady's third touchdown pass he took sole possession of third place in NFL history with 33 playoff touchdowns. Brady's three touchdowns and tight end Rob Gronkowski's two are both ties for franchise records.

5:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Deion Branch had the pass downfield, but he couldn't pull in the catch as he tried to avoid a hit from Denver safety Rafael Bush on the third down pass. The Patriots were forced to punt.

6:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Tim Tebow couldn't find an open receiver, even though he had a couple, leading to another Broncos punt. The Denver offense accumulated 1 yard on this last drive. CB Kyle Arrington got a nice pass defensed, a possible interception, on one Tebow throw.

7:42 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady has regained his accuracy, throwing three darts on the last drive, including a 12-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown as the Patriots go back up two scores.

Brady completed passes to Gronkowski, Deion Branch, and Gronkowski again to move the chains. He also got help from the Patriots' leading rusher, tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez has 58 yards on the ground today, including 10 on the drive.

11:31 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- The Patriots got a good stop against the Broncos, holding Tim Tebow to a 1-yard rush on 3d-and-4. Jerod Mayo recorded the tackle on the play.

13:36 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady misfired on a couple of throws, almost getting picked off by Broncos LB Joe Mays. Instead, the Patriots escaped with a nice punt by Zoltan Mesko, pinning the Broncos at their 5-yard line.

14:54 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- Broncos running back Willis McGahee rushed right up the gut for a 5-yard touchdown. The touchdown was keyed by a 12-yard pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas and Tom Brady's interception.

McGahee has 51 yards rushing already on seven carries.

15:00 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close as the Broncos threaten to score in the red zone. They're trying to capitalize on a Tom Brady interception that gave them the ball only 24 yards away from paydirt. Brady is 9 of 11 on the game so far for 86 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

2:00 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Tom Brady threw an errant pass for an interception, picked off by the Broncos' Quinton Carter and returned to the Patriots' 24-yard line.

3:34 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Tim Tebow was pressured from Patriots Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Deaderick and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas dropped a possible first down pass as the Broncos were forced to punt.

6:42 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Rob Gronkowski has outdone himself. The burly tight end caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone, diving for the grab and pulling it in before sliding out of bounds. The play was reviewed and upheld.

The drive was another speedy seven plays for 59 yards in 3:25, capitalizing on Tim Tebow's fumble, forced by Rob Ninkovich.

10:07 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich hit Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow for a 4-yard sack, jarring the ball loose and fellow linebacker Brandon Spikes recovered to give the Patriots the ball back with 59 yards of field ahead of them.

13:09 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- It took less than two minutes for the Patriots. Tom Brady hit Wes Welker across the middle of the field for a 7-yard touchdown. The scoring strike was set up by a 43-yard run by tight end Aaron Hernandez out of the backfield. The drive was a quick five plays, 80 yards in 1:51.

15:00 1st quarter: Broncos 0, Patriots 0 -- Denver deferred the opening kick and the Patriots will receive to being the game.

Game on.

--

FOXBOROUGH -- We're getting ready to kick off at Gillette Stadium. The temperature has dropped to a chilly 27 degrees and it's not likely to get any warmer.

Stay right here for game updates. But we've also got a Virtual Tailgate party going on, with a chat, live game tweets, photos and the expert analysis from Globe NFL writer Greg A. Bedard will be featured. Check it out here.

For photos of tonight's game, expect them to be populated right here. There's already a number of pregame photos in there.

For photos from the playoff weekend, including the 49ers and Saints tonight, go here. We'll make sure some Patriots photos are in there for you too.

Enjoy the game.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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