Broncos-Patriots AFC Championship: Game Capsule

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Come Sunday afternoon, the Denver Broncos will vie with the New England Patriots for this year’s American Football Conference Championship and the Lamar Hunt Trophy and a trip to the Big Show–Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014.

CBS has the national broadcast with the kickoff set for 1:00 pm MST. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are guaranteed to annoy us with their witty banter.

The very first AFL Championship Game came in the 1960 inaugural season when the Houston Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 24-16 at Houston’s Jeppesen Stadium on New Year’s Day, 1961. The winning team’s players made around $5,000. On Sunday, each participating player will take home $42,000. The winners advance to Super Bowl XLVIII where the share is $92,000 for each winner, $46,000 for each loser.

New England head coach Bill Belichick earned his 19th postseason win as a head coach, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (19) for the 2nd-most in NFL history. With a win on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, Belichick will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry (20) for the most all-time.

“I’m really proud of our football team and we’re looking forward to moving on to a bigger game next week. Every team we play is good and every game is bigger than the next. We just have to try to find some way to come out on top next week. That’s really all it is,” says Belichick.

Last week, the Broncos knocked off San Diego 24-17 for a chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Patriots and Broncos will meet for the 2nd time this season. In Week 12, Denver jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead before New England stormed back for a 34-31 Overtime win.

Bronco Linebacker and Captain Wesley Woodyard summed up what the Broncos need to do to get to Super Bowl XLVIII:

“Finish. That’s the topic of that game, and it’ll be the topic of this game. These guys aren’t going to go away. If they’re down 30 points, they’re going to play the same way as if they’re up 30 points. They’re not going to go away. You’ve got to go out there and play four quarters, 60 minutes, a full game versus these guys.”

Patriots  RB LeGarrette Blount:

“It’s a different (Broncos) team now than what we’ve seen earlier. We’ve got to go out and look at film, look at what they did against San Diego, and see who we’re going to be playing against.”

Both teams, particularly the Defenses, have survived through attrition. The Broncos have lost 13 players to Injured Reserve this season, six of which were starters. New England has also lost 13 players. 12 to Injured Reserve and one cur convict. In all, they too have lost 6 starters to injury and one to the Penal system.

Still, as Broncos head coach John Fox states, it’s all about fortuity:

“I think like any opportunity—when it presents itself, you have to take advantage of it. This is no different. You assume you might get back, whether you talk to a player or a coach, but it doesn’t always happen. You can look at examples this year from teams that we were in the tournament a year ago. So again, like all opportunities, whether it’s a regular-season game, a playoff situation, maybe even a Super Bowl opportunity. You don’t get very many of them. It’s very hard to get there, it’s very competitive. You’re competing against the best in the world. So, of course you try to invest and take advantage to the best of your ability.”

PATRIOTS

  • With a win, Patriots will advance to 8th Super Bowl in franchise history (3-4).

  • New England has a 7-2 record in AFC Championship Games. Last week, they became the 6th team all-time to reach 25 postseason wins.

  • Including playoffs, the Patriots have posted 4 consecutive wins vs. Denver.

  • The Patriots are 3-2 on the Road under Bill Belichick in postseason.

  • QB TOM BRADY’S 18 postseason wins are the most playoff wins by any Quarterback in NFL history. He has the most completions (566), attempts (912) & passing yards (6,147) in NFL playoff history. 1st QB ever to reach 6,000 career postseason passing yards.

  • Brady (42) needs 3 Touchdown passes to surpass Brett Favre (44) for the 2nd-most postseason TD passes all-time and tie Hall Of Famer Joe Montana (45) for the most all-time. He has an 18-7 playoff record, the 3rd-best as starting QB in NFL history.

  • Brady is 1-1 vs. Denver in the playoffs and has completed 46 of 70 passes (65.7%) for 704 yards with 7 TDs vs. 3 Interceptions and a 114.2 Rating.

  • In the past 4 games vs. the Broncos, Brady has completed 106 of 149 passes (71.1%) for 1,250 yards with 12 TDs vs. 1 INT and a 120.4 Rating.

  • Last week, Patriots totaled 234 rushing yards with 6 rushing TDs, joining 1940 Chicago Bears as only teams in NFL postseason history to rush for at least 200 yards & 6 TDs.

  • RB LE GARRETTE BLOUNT posted 4 TDs last week, the 2nd-most in a playoff game in NFL history (Ricky Watters, 5 in 1994).

  • Blount is the 1st player in NFL playoff history to rush for at least 150 yards and 4 TDs in a game.

  • In the past 2 games, LeGarrette has rushed for 355 yards on 48 attwmpts (7.4 avg) with 6 rushing Touchdowns. He has 8 rushing TDs in the past 3 games and needs 2 rushing TD’s to surpass Hall Of Famer Curtis Martin (5) for the most postseason rushing TDs in club history.

  • RB STEVAN RIDLEY had a career postseason-best 2 rushing Touchdowns last week against the Colts.

  • WR JULIAN EDELMAN posted his career playoff-high 84 receiving yards last week. He also had 9 catches for 110 yards with 2 TDs in Week 12 vs. Broncos.

  • Edelman (105) joined Troy Brown and Wes Welker as the only Patriots to have 100+ receptions in season. Julian posted his 1st career 1,000 yard receiving year (1,056).

  • WR DANNY AMENDOLA had 3 catches for 77 yards (25.7 avg.) in his 1st career postseason game last week.

  • DEFENSE registered 4 Interceptions vs. the Colts last week, tying for the most INTs in one postseason game in Patriots history.

  • CB ALFONZO DENNARD had a career playoff-best 2 Picks last week.

  • CB AQIB TALIB led the team with 13 Pass Breakups.

  • CB LOGAN RYAN led all NFL rookies with 5 Interceptions. He had an INT in the last meeting with Denver.

  • DE CHANDLER JONES had a career-high 11.5 Sacks in 2013 and also had a Sack in the last game vs. Broncos.

  • LB DONT’A HIGHTOWER registered his 1st postseason INT against Indianapolis last week.  Hightower had a team-best 97 Tackles this season.

  • Rookie LB JAMIE COLLINS had 6 Tackles, 1 Sack, an Interception and a Pass Breakup in his postseason debut last week.

  • DT CHRIS JONES led all AFC rookies with 6 Sacks.

  • The Patriots had 4 players selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl (QB Brady, G LOGAN MANKINS, CB Talib, WR MATTHEW SLATER).

 

BRONCOS

  • Won AFC West for 13th time and 1st time in 3 straight seasons.

  • QB PEYTON MANNING (5,909) has the 2nd-most career postseason passing yards in NFL history. Last week, Manning (34) surpassed Hall Of Famer Dan Marino (32) for the 4th-most postseason TD passes all-time.

  • Manning (5,477) set NFL’s single-season passing yards record and posted 55 Touchdown passes, the most in a single season in NFL history.

  • In Week 12 vs. New England, RB KNOWSHON MORENO rushed for 224 yards, the 3rd-best total in a regular season game in franchise history. He rushed for 82 yards and a Touchdown last week. Moreno (1,038) reached 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career in 2013.

  • Rookie RB MONTEE BALL has averaged 6.5 yards per carry in the past 3 games (24 att., 156 yards).

  • WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS has 3 TDs in 4 career postseason games. Thomas has averaged 112.3 receiving yards per game in 3 career contests vs. the Patriots.

  • Thomas is the first Bronco to have two 1,400-yard seasons. He set the franchise postseason record with 204 receiving yards last season vs. Pittsburgh.

  • WR WES WELKER has 75 receptions for 724 yards with 5 TDs in 10 career postseason games. Welker (75) needs 2 catches to surpass HOFer Thurman Thomas (76) for the 6th-most catches in NFL playoff history.

  • Welker spent 6 seasons (2007-12) with New England, totaling 672 receptions, the most in Patriots history.

  • PR-WR ERIC DECKER returned 3 punts for 66 yards (22 avg.) last week. He had a career-high in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,288) in 2013.

  • TE JULIUS THOMAS posted 6 catches for 76 yards in his postseason debut last week. Thomas (12) had the most TD catches by a Bronco Tight End in a single season in franchise history during the 2013 campaign.

  • DENVER became the first team in NFL history to have 5 players score at least 10 Touchdowns in the same season (D. Thomas 14, Moreno 13, J. Thomas 12, Decker 11 and Welker 10).

  • CB CHAMP BAILEY has 2 career postseason Interceptions, including a 100-yard INT-TD return in 2o06 against the Patriots, which tied for the 2nd-longest return in postseason history.

  • CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE had a team-high 3 Pass Breakups last week.

  • LB DANNY TREVATHAN led the Broncos with a career-high 125 Tackles this season.

  • LB SHAUN PHILLIPS posted 2 Sacks last week, the most in a postseason game in his career.

  • Shaun has 2 Sacks in the past 3 games vs. the Patriots. Phillips (10) posted double-digit Sacks for the 3rd time in his career.

  • The Broncos had 5 players selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl (QB Manning, K MATT PRATER, WR D. Thomas, TE J. Thomas, G LOUIS VASQUEZ).

This will undoubtedly go down as one of the best matchups in NFL history that wasn’t a Super Bowl game.

 

Go Broncos!

– Kaptain Kirk

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