The New England Patriots failed to reach Super Bowl 50 Sunday with a 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.
Sunday’s game was full of incongruities: the Patriots won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball, then failed to score. Peyton Manning led his team on a scoring drive on Denver’s first possession. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first half, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed his first extra point since his rookie season in 2006.
The game was also, from the start, thoroughly, intractably, Denver’s. Broncos linebacker Von Miller had 2.5 sacks and five tackles as part of a Denver attack that consistently got to Brady. Brady finished just 27 of 56, a product of the Broncos pass rush. He also finished as New England’s leading rusher, his 13 yards the standout portion of a New England running game that wasn’t there.
The takeaways are obvious. New England will not be going to the seventh Super Bowl in the Brady-Bill Belichick era. Brady will not be winning his record fifth Super Bowl title, which would be the most ever for a quarterback. The Patriots, who started the season 10-0 on a revenge tour for the Deflategate scandal that rocked the team last season, will not be exacting that payback.
The Broncos face the winner of Sunday night’s Panthers-Cardinals game.
Photos: Scenes from Sunday’s AFC Championship Game