AFC Championship. The Aftermath.

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“Hey listen, it might be my last rodeo. So it sure has been a pleasure.” These were Manning’s words to coach Belichick after his team Denver Broncos won the AFC Championship Game. An event that many lights were pointing towards and many people expressed their view of what would happen. Including me.
In my preview I predicted the Broncos to win after a play that would spark them to run away fairly safely against the Patriots, but it didn’t look like that at all.
Firstly, while watching the game I thought that The Play was the lateral pass Manning threw to Hillman who just didn’t seem to have energy to catch it. It was ruled incomplete, challenge flag dropped shortly after and since the Pats recovered the loose ball it was theirs and two plays later Brady threw a touchdown pass to tie the game.
And that was the moment when I thought the fortunes were playing their magic cards at the moment of that pass/fumble- challenge sequence. I thought this is the spark the Patriots needed and shortly after, Gostkowski missed his first PAT since 2006. The game wasn’t tied. It was 7-6 for Broncos and that missed play was going to be talked about a lot.
But in the meantime the game continued quiet stadium when Broncos were on offense, an absolute hell of noise when Brady was under the center. I think the relentless pass rush and the Bronco’s fans were too much to overcome and soon enough Brady got outsmarted on a play and threw the ball into Von Miller’s hands (who became the first player in post season to sack and puck Brady in the same game).
Manning got the ball and completed another touchdown pass to Daniels who caught his cover out with the same double move he had done when scoring first touchdown earlier.
New England answered with a field goal, then Brady forced a bad pass to avoid the rush and another interception but the Broncos offense stalled and it remained stagnant through most of the reminder of the game. The lead was 17-9 at halftime and since Belichick unusually decided to receive the ball in first half, the Broncos were reviving the ball to start the second half and it almost seemed that a little effort could get them another score to put more pressure on Brady and Co. but it didn’t happen.
There were plenty of punts two field goals, each team getting one and the gruelling, nail hitting end to fourth quarter when with over 6 mins to go the Pats got stopped on 4th down conversion when they were within field goal range. Decision many people said was coach Belichick mistake.
I thought it was a right call, I expected another QB sneak but Pats played a well designed and confusing play but got stopped. And then they got stopped again and eventually they had to give in and the score was 20-18 with seconds left to spare.
They needed two point conversion but Brady got intercepted again, and after unsuccessful onside kick recovery attempt by New England the AFC Championship Game was over. Just like that. Finished. A wave of relief went through my body and a tiny spark of hope that Manning still has a chance to retire (if he chooses to) at the top.
And no, that missed PAT didn’t cost the Pats the win. The game would flow slightly different if Gostkowski didn’t miss. But that’s not the point I mention it again.
It was shocking to me see how great abuse Gostkowski got from the “(pseudo?) fans” on twitter for missing the kick. I mean it’s just shocking.
I missed most of the Brady-Manning rivalry but some long standing fans probably watched every single game between the teams led by these two well skilled and accomplished players and if it was their last one, that’s not the wat to finish it.
With some pointless abuse typed out on twitter… I bet that none of those “internet warriors” would have the guts to do it to the kicker’s face.
It sure has been a pleasure to watch and read about the rivalry and this game was worth watching on this dull January’s Sunday in England.

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