Jan 19, 2014 at 8pm UK at ​Sports Authority Field
New England Patriots
16-26
Denver Broncos
FT
0
Q1
3
3
Q2
10
Tamme (7:50)
0
Q3
7
Thomas (7:52)
Edelman (9:26), Brady (3:07)
13
Q4
6

Live Commentary: New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady shake hands after the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos on November 24, 2013
© Getty Images
Live coverage of the AFC championship weekend playoff game as the New England Patriots travel to the Denver Broncos for a place in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Good evening and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the NFL AFC championship game clash between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots.

The winner will reach Super Bowl XLVIII in New York on February 2. Nobody wants to fall at this stage of the season, and with so much at stake, we should be in for a classic encounter.

Follow the minute by minute action below.

Please note that kickoff is at 8pm.


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11.12pmThanks for joining our live commentary here on Sports Mole and remember you can stay with us tonight as we cover that game between the 49ers and Seahwaks next.

11.10pmThe AFC champions are now taking to the stage, eager to find out whether they will face the San Francisco 49ers or the Seattle Seahawks in New York in a fortnight.

11.10pmThe Pats can take heart from their season, with their new-look offense almost going all the way. Unfortunately for them, Brady just couldn't get it done. But this is the New England Patriots, so you can guarantee that they'll be back next season!

11.08pmThe Patriots threatened to cause a late panic for the home side, but in the end it was a deserved win for Manning's men. In truth, they've been the best team in the AFC ever since opening night this season, so their appearance in the Super Bowl cannot be argued by too many. They had some outstanding performers tonight, with Manning and Demaryius Thomas particularly impressive.

11.05pmNew England Patriots 16-26 Denver Broncos

Q4 0.01And that's the game! The Broncos have done it! Ball's short rush gets him over the first down marker, sparking wild celebrations in the crowd from the Denver faithful. Peyton Manning will go to New York to try and win his second Super Bowl ring.

Q4 0.48THE DENVER BRONCOS ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL

Q4 1.33On 3rd&2, Ball gets nowhere but the clock continues to tick.

Q4 2.00Perfect from Ball, who edges forward for three more and the clock ticks down to the two minute warning. Denver are on the New England 17 now.

Q4 2.41Ball rushes again, gaining five on first down, allowing the Patriots to use up their final timeout.

Q4 2.48Big play from Denver! Tamme is wide open and takes in a pass out on the right. It goes for 23 yards and NE use another timeout.

Q4 3.01It's clock run time now for Denver, and Ball's gain of three is unsurprisingly greeted with New England's first timeout of the half.

Q4 3.05The Pats attempt an onside kick, but Decker hauls it in with no pressure and the Broncos have it at midfield to start their drive.

Q4 3.07TWO POINT CONVERSION IS NO GOOD Vereen attempts to score two rather than take the PAT, but he is stopped short and it's now 26-16 in favour of the home side.

Q4 3.10TOUCHDOWN NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS And it's Brady with a rushing touchdown! The pocket breaks down, Brady has no options and as Denver back away, he strides forward for the score! Game on.

Q4 3.56Collie is in acres to make his next catch. He picks up 18 and NE are suddenly on the Denver 12.

Q4 4.19The ball is almost picked on first down, but another rush from Vereen on second secures the 10 yards required.

Q4 5.10Vereen carries the ball, starting on his 39. He travels nine on first down. The next play has Brady hitting Edelman again. This is turning into another decent drive.

Q4 6.02Edelman picks up eight on second down but slips when he might've made the first down marker. On 3rd&2 however, he does make a catch to move the chains.

Q4 6.56First down falls incomplete as the crowd urge this Broncos defense to make the game safe.

Q4 7.00Vereen opts to take a knee from the kick off and Brady will emerge once more.

Q4 7.00FIELD GOAL IS GOOD Prater scores again, this time from 54 yards. He's now 6/7 this season with attempts from outside of 50 yards.

Q4 7.38Moreno hobbles over to the bench following that play. On the field, Manning goes long for Demaryius Thomas but it's just out of his reach. Fourth down coming up.

Q4 7.54On their next first down, Moreno rushes for just one. The exact same is repeated on the next play.

Q4 8.43Manning aims for Demaryius Thomas on first down, failing to complete. On second down, Julius Thomas takes a floater into his stride, travelling down the sideline and past midfield for a 37 yard gain.

Q4 9.22Holliday returns the kick off for Denver, edging out of bounds at his 25.

Q4 9.26Nine plays, 80 yards and just two minutes is all it took for the Pats to score then. If you're going to muster a comeback win, it's those type of drives you do it with. Surely they can't though, can they?!

Q4 9.26TOUCHDOWN NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Brady with a huge overthrow on first down, but finds Edelman on second, who moves his side into double figures. It's never done until it's done in the NFL, and the silence of the crowd now suggests that they know that.

Q4 9.47Big conversion on fourth down, with Vereen making a reception out wide to gain the necessary three yards. It's first and goal.

Q4 10.03Unorthodox stuff from Brady, who narrowly escapes being sacked on second down. Somehow, he completes to Vereen. On 3rd&3, he misses the same receiver.

Q4 10.46Incomplete pass on first down, but Denver have another man down.

Q4 10.58Another first down completion for Brady. Play action pass to Collie, gaining 20. On the next play, Edelman hauls one in and it's another 1st&10 from the Denver 26.

Q4 11.56Brady starts nicely, finding Hoomanawanui for a first down.

Q4 12.00Vereen with another touch back from the kick off, so it's Brady from the 20 once again. Time for Tom to get the comeback started.....?!

Q4 12.03FIELD GOAL IS GOOD Prater again, this time from 20 yards, extends the lead that bit more for the home side. New England have 12 minutes to save their season and turn this around.

Q4 12.20On second down, a shovel pass to Julius Thomas has Denver fall short. He's targeted again on the next play, but despite being wide open in the end zone, he drops it and they'll have to settle for three.

Q4 13.09Starting on the 18, Welker takes a catch and gets all the way down to the three before he hits the floor.

Q4 13.48Moreno gets to the five, but another holding call takes Denver back again.

Q4 13.52Julius Thomas makes amends straight away, converting for a first down despite the yardage penalty. It's 1st&goal.

Q4 14.55On 2nd&3, Julius Thomas is penalised for holding and it costs Denver 10 yards.

Q4 15.00Ball ran the ball on first down and reached the NE 12, with the third quarter ending there.

Q3 0.00END OF THIRD QUARTER New England Patriots 3-20 Denver Broncos

Q3 0.34Ok, now I'm stumped. Manning calls "OMAHA" yet again, but this time it means long-pass to Thomas, who makes his seventh catch, well into Patriot territory. I honestly cannot fathom what it means, but it's clever and I like it.

Q3 1.09Brilliant work from Julius Thomas on second down, making a reception and driving up the right sideline for a first down.

Q3 2.00Manning has it on his own 41, opting for a pass to Ball on first down. He loses a couple though.

Q3 2.25SACK And Brady hits the turf! It's a horrible fourth down effort from the Patriots, and with their QB exposed, he goes down for the second time today under Knighton's tackle.

Q3 2.29The Broncos have been charged with that timeout, not the Pats as I assumed.

Q3 2,30Vereen almost takes a tipped pass on third down but drops it as he goes down. NE think about going for it on fourth down, but then take a timeout because they're not so sure.

Q3 3.08Ridley gains eight with a run outside on 1st&10. On second down, he's stopped instantly and they need another third down conversion.

Q3 4.09Vereen runs strong on second down, gaining nine. On 3rd down, a QB sneak has Brady get the first down.

Q3 4.52On the next first down, Brady goes for the home run, with a 52 yard lob to Dobson. It's long however, and the Pats have a 2nd&10.

Q3 5.11Amendola - still without a catch today - drops an easy pass, focusing on where he's heading rather than concentrating on taking it in. On 3rd&5, Brady hits Collie again and they convert for 12 more yards.

Q3 5.53Ridley rushes for six yards on their next first down, and the Broncos have a man down.

Q3 6.54The Pats are short off a run on second down, but convert a vital third down with Collie gaining seven.

Q3 7.25Brady starts at the 20, with a slant pass to Dobson for six. They're going to need to score on this drive you feel.

Q3 7.52Just how the Pats didn't want to start the half, and they're going to have to repeat their feats of last time almost, if they are to reach the Super Bowl.

Q3 7.52TOUCHDOWN DENVER BRONCOS Brilliant fake from Demaryius Thomas to fool Dennard! He goes one way, then back the other, and Manning finds him with ease in the end zone. It completes their longest drive of the whole season, and it puts them up by 17 points.

Q3. 8.32And the Broncos convert on third down yet again. This time, Ball carries the ball a short distance, but again, it's enough.

Q3 9.02Moreno runs the ball on first down, almost getting a clear shot at the end zone before being brought down on the Patriots 8. On second down, Manning overthrows Julius Thomas.

Q3 9.30Huge first down gained for Manning and the Broncos, with Julius Thomas hauling in a short pass but past the markers. They're 6/9 on third down.

Q3 10.06On 3rd&3, the Denver line struggle to get themselves ready and Manning is forced to use an early timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. He's frustrated by it, knowing it could be costly.

Q3 10.30Moreno goes for three on 1st&10 from the 27. On second down, Demaryius Thomas is short of the first, gaining just four yards.

Q3 11.25And Decker gets the next first down. A screen pass to the receiver out wide, and his eases past the markers. Manning has completed his last ten in a row.

Q3 12.13Ball jinks pass Collins for five on the next first down.

Q3 13.12A rush for six from Moreno on first down is followed by another Demaryius Thomas catch. He gains another first, spinning down on the NE 40.

Q3 14.03Big play from Decker, gaining 18 on second down. Manning has such an array of weapons to use here.

Q3 14.25Two flags thrown on second down, one against each side, offsetting themselves and 2nd&9 will be repeated.

Q3 14.49They run for one on first down. Bill Belichick has said at half time that having Talib sidelined "does not help".

Q3 15.00Ok, so Manning will start with the ball on his 20, following the kick off.

9.36pmManning meanwhile has completed 18/25 pass attempts, going over 200 yards and having a score next to his name. Demaryius Thomas has 82 receiving yards; Moreno is averaging five yards a carry with 40 from eight.

9.34pmLooking at the stats, Brady is 9/14 with 114 yards, but it's on the ground that the Pats are struggling. Blount has just six yards to show for his five carries, with everyone expecting more after his match-winning display last weekend.

9.32pmStill, New England can take heart from this, as the last time they went in at half time against Denver, they were 24-0 behind, and still managed to win the game. On this occasion, they're just ten back, which can easily be made up quickly if they start the third quarter strongly.

9.30pmThe loss of Talib is big for NE, and it showed when Demaryius Thomas was allow to gain over half the field on two consecutive plays towards the end of the half.

9.29pmWell, Manning and his side have a probably deserved lead, with Brady's Patriots struggling thus far when looking to pass the ball. Denver have been excellent on third down, which has been crucial in them gaining the lead at the interval.

Q2 0.00HALF TIME New England Patriots 3-13 Denver Broncos

Q2 0.09Vereen runs and closes out the half.

Q2 0.11On the repeated second down, Collie is the downfield target and an elaborate one handed catch attempt fails to come off.

Q2 0.16Dobson is the target on 2nd&10, but although he's blocked, a five yard penalty is given against Denver for offside.

Q2 0.21Brady's first down pass is wild, missing Edelman by a long way after the receiver is blocked on the route.

Q2 0.25The Patriots begin on their 20, with 25 seconds left.

Q2 0.25FIELD GOAL IS GOOD Prater converts again, making this a two score game. John Fox was tempted to let his side go for it there, but it would've been greedy and very short sighted.

Q2 0.30Denver waste a timeout, deciding to call Prater out for a 35 yard field goal effort.

Q2 0.30On 3rd&5, Moreno finds himself a yard shy of the markers. They're 4th&1 on the NE 21.

Q2 0.40Those two Thomas catches combined for 55 yards! That's a huge amount of field covered by back to back plays.

Q2 0.40On 2nd&7, Welker goes down under a shove from McCourtey, and the hosts call their first timeout.

Q1 0.56Manning gains another first down through the air, and on the next play finds Ball, who gets three off a short pass.

Q2 1.34Thomas again with a huge gain! This time, his yards after the catch take him to the Patriots 36. They're on a mission here.

Q2 1.45Excellent from the Broncos on 2nd&20, with Manning finding Demaryius Thomas who gains a big first down.

Q2 2.00Big shame, as a penalty flag is thrown against Denver and Welker's take is chalked off. They'll go even further backwards for a second and long, but we're into the two minute warning now.

Q2 2.20Excellent catch from Welker there on second down, gaining a first down.

Q2 2.33So Manning has the ball back on his 20, following the kick. Moreno loses two yards on first down.

Q2 2.54FIELD GOAL IS GOOD Excellent effort from the NE kicker, allowing his team to put up their first points of the day.

Q2 3.20SACK And Brady is hauled to the ground for the first time today! Ayres sacks Brady for a loss of 11 and Gostowski will take a 47 yard field goal shot.

Q3 3.41Edelman gained two there, and it will be 3rd&8. The Patriots take a timeout, to Brady's annoyance.

Q2 3.592nd&10 from the 20, and Edelman is hauled down after the catch. The wideout drops it, but he's down before the ball pops out.

Q2 4.57Blount gains nothing on first down, and yes, that is how you spell Hoomanawanui.

Q2 5.30This is a cracking drive from NE and they gain another 1st&10, well into Denver territory now. I was dreading this, but it's Hoomanawanui who takes a 15 yard pass from Brady. They're on their opponents 20.

Q2 5.49Blount gets two more on the next first down. That's four carries for just six yards so far for last week's hero.

Q2 6.09On first down, Blount travels three. The next play has Vereen take a short pass and gain a first down.

Q2 6.55Big play from Aaron Dobson to get New England up the field! Instantly, they reach midfield, with Dobson getting himself open, allowing Brady to find him with ease.

Q1 7.49Talib has a rib injury apparently, and is questionable for the rest of this game.

Q2 7.49The PAT was good by the way, so Denver are up by 10. Vereen takes a knee from the kick off and Brady will start at the 20.

Q2 7.50The big play in that series was Moreno's superb third down rush. Again, Manning called "OMAHA" loudly, and this time it produced a run. I'm confused by it, I'm sure New England are too.

Q2 7.50TOUCHDOWN DENVER BRONCOS It looked inevitable that the Broncos would score then, and with everybody expecting another run, Manning takes the play action snap and finds Jacob Tamme in the end zone to complete an excellent 93 yard, 15 play drive.

Q2 8.09Ball runs into trouble again on second down, but on third, he just gets over the marker. A new set of downs for Denver, from the 1.

Q2 9.20It's not quite 1st&goal, but Ball goes for the running score anyway. He falls just short and it's 2nd&1.

Q2 9.59Moreno with a huge gainer! A 28 yard rush, gets him all the way down to the Patriots 11 yard line.

Q2 10.31On 1st&10 for the NE 39, Decker is open but juggles and drops his pass. On the next play, another incomplete pass.

Q2 11.03Denver go for three on first down, with Ball catching a pass and gaining 12 on 2nd&7. Talib meanwhile, has headed to the locker room.

Q2 11.39A holding flag on the following play provides Denver with five yards and an automatic first down.

Q2 12.40On the next first down at their 36, they gain two via Julius Thomas. On second down, back up tight end Richard Green carries the ball for the first time all year, gaining a first down with an eight yard rush!

Q2 13.09Talib is on the sidelines temporarily. Denver go through the air on third down, with Welker catching a floater between two Pats defenders.

Q2 13.31Bad news for New England, who have Aqib Talib on the floor injured and receiving treatment.

Q2 14.012013 first round Draft pick Collins makes another stop, this time on Moreno who gains just one. On 2nd&9, Demaryius Thomas drops a pass, which pops out of his grasp.

Q2 14.20Apologies, they began on their own seven! But they still managed a first down, with Moreno rushing 11.

Q2 14.51Ah, they changed their minds and decided to punt. I thought that was a strange call. Denver will begin on their 20 following the punt.

Q2 15.00So, on the Denver 39, the Patriots will go for it on fourth and long when play resumes. You have to think that we're about to see something big attempted by Tom Brady...

Q1 0.00END OF FIRST QUARTER: New England Patriots 0-3 Denver Broncos

Q1 0.01Champ Bailey makes a stop on third down, but the Patriots opt to go for it on 4th&16.

Q1 0.48There's a stoppage for injury to a Denver defender. Whilst he's down, a replay is shown of Manning's earlier attempt at finding Julius Thomas inside the Pats 10. For my money, there should have been a holding call against New England on the play.

Q1 0.48On 3rd&10, Brady completes a pass for nine yards, but the offense commit the game's first foul and they'll go back 15 yards and repeat the down.

Q1 0.56The Pats are in Denver territory now but first down results in no gain, whilst second has a pass go out of bounds.

Q1 1.41On third down, this time Brady does find Edelman for 18. Excellent work from the offensive line to protect Brady there.

Q1 2.30The Patriots QB goes long once more on their next first down. Looking for Edelman downfield off a play action attempt, he just misses his target. On 2nd&10, Ridley travels for five.

Q1 3.06Brady completes his first first down of the game! He finds Shane Vereen out to his left, who travels after the pass and gets the chains moving.

Q1 3.43Another kick goes out the back of the end zone and Brady will resume on his 20 once more.

Q1 3.43FIELD GOAL IS GOOD And Denver lead by three, with Matt Prater converting a 27 yard shot.

Q1 3.48On third down, Manning goes way over the head of Decker. They'll kick for three.

Q1 4.08Julius Thomas is the target on first down, blocked by McCourtey - with the crowd screaming for a flag. On 2nd&goal, Collins stops Moreno for just a yard.

Q1 5.00Decker this time for Denver! He hauls in another play action throw from Manning and the Broncos are inside the 10.

Q1 5.55Jamie Collins blocks a pass to Montee Ball on first down, then the stops a run of the same player on second. On 3rd&10, Manning reaches Demaryius Thomas right over midfield and the star wideout is stopped well into Patriots territory.

Q1 7.09Moreno travels for 18 yards on second down! A play action pass to the running back is the correct option, and he runs down the sideline before being pushed out.

Q1 7.22Manning starts inside his 20, reaching Julius Thomas on first down for six.

Q1 8.00Brady goes long on third down, targeting Matthew Slater. The little-used receiver fails to haul it in and the Patriots will vacate the field again. Yet to get a first down here, New England.

Q1 9.13To start their second series, Brady finds Matthew Mulligan for a gain of six. On second down, they hand off to Blount again - this time progressing just a single yard.

Q1 9.30Hmmm, Manning told the media that "OMAHA" meant running play earlier this week. He's said it again here, and passed for the second time following that call. It's an overthrow however, and the Broncos punt away into the end zone. They didn't punt once during last week's win over San Diego.

Q1 10.47Denver are on a mission here, with Manning hitting Welker for six on first down. They're halted a little though, with Moreno being pulled down by Hightower on second down, losing five.

Q1 11.20Big first down for Denver! Decker cuts across the open field to take a short pass, gaining 21 yards and getting to the New England 49.

Q1 12.09Classic Manning! After calling "OMAHA" and juggling the snap, he still manages to pick a pass and gains seven when he finds Decker. First down.

Q1 13.17Peyton completes his first pass of the game too, finding Julius Thomas for five. Moreno then scrambles on second down, gaining three more yards.

Q1 13.39The quarterback goes through the air again but finds no receiver, meaning the Pats start with a three and out. They punt 60 yards and Manning will enter the fray.

Q1 14.09Brady's first snap is a pass play, and he finds Edelman for five yards, but his quickly stopped. On 2nd&5, Blount gets nowhere.

Q1 15.00So, Brady to start on his 20 yard line and get this game underway.

8.04pmDenver have won the toss and decided to defer, meaning that they will receive the football in the second half. Crucially, it also means they won't have receivers looking into the bright sun in the 2nd & 4th quarters.

7.56pmWe’re just a few minutes away from kick off now.

7.53pmPATRIOTS INACTIVES: OL Baker, WR Thompkins, TE Williams, DL Bequette, DL Sopoaga, LB Beauharnais, CB Green.

7.52pmBRONCOS INACTIVES: TE Dreessen, RB Hillman, OT Painter, OG Kuper, DL Fua, CB Cole, QB Dysert.

7.52pmOn to tonight then, and lets take a look at the inactives for both sides tonight.

7.48pmIn their divisional weekend game with the Colts last weekend, rusher LeGarrette Blount really stepped up - scoring four touchdowns for his 166 yards as Brady actually failed to pass for a score.

7.48pmUnlike the Broncos, they have nobody inside the league’s top 20 for either receiving yards or touchdowns, but Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen all more than capable of making big plays.

7.47pmFor the Patriots, Brady has had to oversee huge change this season, with the loss of Welker to Denver, Rob Gronkowski to injury and Aaron Hernandez to prison meaning other players have had to step up.

7.46pmThat’s not to say Denver’s running game or defense are shabby though! Running back Knowshon Moreno has had a career year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and also diving in for touchdowns on ten occasions.

7.46pmWideout pairing Eric Decker and ex-Patriot Wes Welker, alongside tight end Julius Thomas are also huge threats in the end zone, with all three of them scoring over ten times each this year.

7.45pmFor Denver, Manning has any number of extremely capable receivers which he can target. He has the league’s second highest touchdown leader in Demaryius Thomas, who had 14 scores to his name during the regular season and has added another in the playoffs.

7.45pmBelieve it or not though, there are others who can influence proceedings tonight!

7.44pmIn head-to-head, Brady leads Manning 10-4, and this is the third time they’ve met at this stage of the season - although this is the first occasion that Manning hasn’t been an Indianapolis Colts player.

7.44pmThen you have Brady. Unlike Manning, he boasts three title rings from five Super Bowl appearances, as well as far better post-season stats than his opponents. In regular season terms though, Manning leaves Brady trailing.

7.44pmTheir rivalry is one of the greatest in the history of the sport, and it’s difficult to simply determine ‘who is the better’ of the two. On one hand, you have Manning, who set NFL season records for touchdown passes (55) and passing yards (5,477) this year. However, he's 1-2 in Super Bowl’s (his brother Eli winning more with the New York Giants).

7.43pmWhile the game is obviously not just about the two quarterbacks, much of the pre-match emphasis has been geared towards this being the fifteenth career meeting between Brady and Manning.

7.41pmIf tonight’s contest is half as entertaining as things were that night, we could be in for yet another memorable occasion.

7.41pmWhen the sides met during the regular season, a stunning second half comeback from the Patriots saw them recover from 24-0 down at half-time to stun their rivals, kicking a winner in overtime to take the victory.

7.40pmIt’s the first of two ties tonight, with the winners of each game going through to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York’s MetLife Stadium on February 2. There is only stage bigger than the championship game in the NFL, so where is your money? With Tom Brady and the Patriots? Or Peyton Manning and the home side?

7.38pmGood evening and welcome to Sports Mole’s live commentary of the NFL AFC championship weekend clash as the New England Patriots travel to the Denver Broncos.

Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady shake hands after the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos on November 24, 2013
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