Broncos beat Patriots 26-16 in AFC Championship Game - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Broncos beat Patriots 26-16 in AFC Championship Game; head to Super Bowl

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Peyton Manning Peyton Manning
DENVER -

Peyton Manning and the Broncos are headed to the Super Bowl.

Denver dominated the New England Patriots 26-16 on Sunday to win the AFC Championship. The Broncos came out with their game on and New England was never able to catch up.

Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to lead Denver to its first trip to the NFL title game in 15 years.

The Broncos (15-3) will play San Francisco or Seattle on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

It marks the next big step for Manning on a comeback from multiple neck surgeries that almost ended his career.

He led the Broncos on a pair of 7-plus-minute touchdown drives, the second of which gave Denver a 20-3 lead.

Manning improved to 5-10 lifetime against Brady but is now 2-1 in the AFC title games.

The Patriots (13-5) got only 64 yards rushing and most of Brady's 277 yards came after New England had fallen behind by 20.

Second half notes

With seven minutes left, the Broncos got the ball back after New England's touchdown and drove 75 yards for another field goal, making the score 26-10.

The Patriots started on their own 20-yard line after the Broncos' field goal and drove 80 yards in nine plays, getting into the end zone on a Tom Brady to Edelman seven-yard pass to get within two scores (23-10) with 9:30 left in the game.

Denver's defense was able to stop New England on a fourth down with a sack of Tom Brady at the Broncos' 39-yard line. Peyton Manning and the offense drove 61 yards but had to settle for a Matt Prater 19-yard field goal to make it 23-3.

Denver continued its dominance in the third quarter with a three-yard pass from Manning to Demaryius Thomas, giving the Broncos a 20-3 lead.

First half notes

The Broncos got onto the scoreboard first with Matt Prater's 27-yard field goal. Four minutes later, Jacob Tamme caught a one-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Manning, putting Denver ahead 10-0.

New England's Stephen Gostkowski's 47-yard field goal put the Patriots on the board 10-3, followed by Denver's field goal to make it 13-3 at half-time.

New England cornerback Aqib Talib left the game with a rib injury in the second quarter. The Patriots said his return was questionable.

Talib was shaken up when he ran into Broncos receiver Wes Welker on a pass play over the middle. Talib stayed on the ground for several minutes before gingerly walking off the field. He was examined on the bench and headed to the locker room briefly before returning to the sideline.

Talib has been one of New England's top cornerbacks, holding Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas to a season-low 41 yards in a 34-31 overtime win on Nov. 24.

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