DENVER — The last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl was nine years ago.
After losing to the Denver Broncos 26-16 Sunday in the AFC Championship, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will have to wait one more year to chase that elusive fourth title.Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns and Broncos kicker Matt Prater converted on four field goal attempts to lead Denver to its first Super Bowl berth since 1998.
The Broncos will face the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers, in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey on Feb. 2.
"I wish we could've done a little better today, especially me," Belichick said.
In the Belichick and Brady era, the Patriots fell to 3-3 on the road in the postseason and have lost two straight AFC Championships. It was the 15th meeting of the league’s two top quarterbacks, Manning and Brady, with Brady falling to 10-5. Brady had beaten a Manning-led team in three straight matchups.
"They are a really good football team, we just couldn't do enough today," Brady said. "We definitely had some chances on third down. It's just a tough day for our team, we fought hard, just came up short to a very good football team."
Belichick fell to 6-2 against Denver head coach John Fox.
Manning threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 7:52 left in the third quarter and a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme in the second quarter as the Broncos jumped all over the Patriots.
Prater's four field goals, including a 54-yarder, helped the Broncos go up by as much as 20 points on the Patriots before Brady orchestrated a pair of 80-yard touchdown drives. He threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman and ran in a 5-yard touchdown on his own in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Gostkowski made a 47-yard field goal with 2:54 left in the first half to get the Patriots on the scoreboard. But the Patriots didn't get into the end zone until there was 9:52 left in the fourth quarter.
"Starting tomorrow we're on to 2014," Belichick said.