January 20, 2014 in Sports

Manning awaits Seahawks

Will play in third Super Bowl after steering Broncos to win
Eddie Pells Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno leaps over Patriots strong safety Duron Harmon during the first half of Sunday’s game.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Looking ahead

Super BowlXLVIII

Seattle Seahawks

vs. Denver Broncos

MetLife Stadium,

East Rutherford, N.J.

Feb. 2, 3:30 p.m. TV: Fox 28

Inside

• Broncos vs. Seahawks will be a matchup of game’s best quarterback against

No. 1 defense /B4

Richard Sherman: Confident corner steals attention /B5

Notebook: Forty-four ‘Omaha!’ calls nets thousands for charity /B4

Patriots overmatched after cornerback Aqib Talib leaves with injury /B4

DENVER – Peyton Manning stuffed the football into his helmet and handed it to an equipment man for safekeeping.

The connection: Flawless, as usual.

The keepsake: Certainly one he’ll want to hang on to.

The Broncos quarterback had an answer for everyone Sunday – from Tom Brady to the New England defense to anyone who thought he couldn’t win the big one.

Manning is taking the Broncos on a trip to New York for the Super Bowl after another of his impeccably crafted victories – this time, a 26-16 win over the Patriots on Sunday in the AFC title game.

“Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl, I know how hard it is to get there,” Manning said.

Especially this time.

Only three years ago, he could barely grip a football as he started the long comeback from surgeries that ravaged his neck and nerve endings. And only 53 weeks ago, he suffered a devastating loss to Baltimore in the divisional playoffs that derailed what looked like a Super Bowl trip in his comeback season.

But Manning will get his chance for a second Super Bowl ring, after all. He’ll try to become the first starting quarterback to win one with two different teams, at the Meadowlands on Feb. 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, who beat San Francisco 23-17 in the NFC title game.

“He’s been remarkable,” said Broncos coach John Fox, off to his second Super Bowl as a head coach. “It’s unprecedented what he did.”

After packing away his football, Manning ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady. A bit later in the locker room, he celebrated with his father, Archie, and brothers Cooper and Eli, the Giants quarterback who surprised Peyton much the way Peyton surprised him by showing up at the NFC title game two years ago.

The Indy-turned-Denver quarterback improved to 5-10 lifetime against Brady, but is now 2-1 in AFC title games.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Brady said. “Certainly, he’s a great player and he played great today.”

Though Manning threw for 400 yards, it was more dink-and-dunk than a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment between the NFL’s two best quarterbacks of a generation. Manning set up four field goals by Matt Prater and put his stamp on this one with a pair of long, meticulous and mistake-free touchdown drives in which nothing came cheap.

He geared down the no-huddle, hurry-up offense that helped him set records for touchdown passes and yardage this season and made the Broncos the highest-scoring team in history. The result: 93- and 80-yard touchdown drives that each lasted more than 7 minutes; they were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for the Broncos (15-3).

The Broncos held the ball for 35:44. They were 7 for 13 on third-down conversions.

“To keep Tom Brady on the sideline is a good thing,” Manning said. “That’s something you try to do when you’re playing the Patriots.”

Manning capped the second long drive with a 3-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas, who got inside the overmatched Alfonzo Dennard and left his feet to make the catch. It gave Denver a 20-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

From there, it was catch-up time for Brady and the Pats (13-5), and they are not built for that – at least not this year.

“We got in a hole there,” Brady said. “It was just too much to dig our way out.”

Brady, who threw for most of his 277 yards in comeback mode, led the Patriots to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. But they were a pair of time-consuming, 80-yard drives. The second cut the deficit to 26-16 with 3:07 left, but the Broncos stopped Shane Vereen on the 2-point conversion and the celebration was on in Denver.

Broncos 26, Patriots 16

New England0301316
Denver3107626

Den – FG Prater 27

Den – Tamme 1 pass from Manning (Prater kick)

NE – FG Gostkowski 47

Den – FG Prater 35

Den – D.Thomas 3 pass from Manning (Prater kick)

Den – FG Prater 19

NE – Edelman 7 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick)

Den – FG Prater 54

NE – Brady 5 run (run failed)

A – 77,110.

NEDen
First downs1927
Total Net Yards320507
Rushes-yards16-6428-107
Passing256400
Punt Returns0-00-0
Kickoff Returns0-01-4
Interceptions Ret.0-00-0
Comp-Att-Int24-38-032-43-0
Sacked-Yards Lost2-210-0
Punts3-49.01-48.0
Fumbles-Lost0-00-0
Penalties-Yards2-154-34
Time of Possession24:1635:44

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – New England, Vereen 4-34, Ridley 5-17, Brady 2-7, Blount 5-6. Denver, Moreno 14-59, Ball 12-43, Green 1-6, Manning 1-(minus 1).

PASSING – New England, Brady 24-38-0-277. Denver, Manning 32-43-0-400.

RECEIVING – New England, Edelman 10-89, Vereen 5-59, Collie 4-57, Dobson 2-33, Hoomanawanui 2-33, Mulligan 1-6. Denver, J.Thomas 8-85, D.Thomas 7-134, Decker 5-73, Welker 4-38, Ball 3-13, Tamme 2-24, Moreno 2-22, Caldwell 1-11. MISSED FIELD GOALS – None.

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