By Jueseppi B.
Seattle vs. Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII
The Seattle Seahawks (15-3) will meet the Denver Broncos (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.
From Chicago Tribune:
DENVER — Peyton Manning didn’t have to outduel Tom Brady in the AFC championship game Sunday. The Broncos’ defense made sure of that.
Another Manning vs. Brady postseason classic never materialized because the Broncos’ defense stuffed the run, pressured Brady at critical moments and took advantage of his ill-timed inaccuracy.
It amounted to an orange tidal wave that the Broncos rode to a 26-16 victory over the Patriots and a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks.
“Coming in with the two quarterbacks you have in Peyton and Tom Brady, there was all this talk about a shootout and who’s going to play the better game,” Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “So our main thing was just trying to get the ball back to our offense.”
They consistently did, and Manning took advantage. He completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns. His 118.4 passer rating was his fifth-best in 22 career postseason games.
The conference title was especially gratifying for Manning, who sat out the 2011 season following multiple neck surgeries, including a cervical fusion procedure. He celebrated his third career Super Bowl berth by posing for pictures with brothers Eli and Cooper inside a home locker room littered with orange, blue and white confetti.
“I put a lot of hard work in,” Manning said. “I had a lot of people — teammates, coaches, trainers — help me along the way. We’ve definitely come a long way in two years. It’s an exciting feeling.”
The Broncos claimed their first AFC title since they won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. It seemed particularly sweet to players and coaches because of the adversity they have endured.
Coach John Fox missed almost one month after undergoing aortic heart valve replacement surgery on Nov. 4. The Broncos also played Sunday without 10 players who are on the reserve/injured list, including All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady and All-Pro linebacker Von Miller.
“Just standing here feels pretty good because I almost wasn’t,” said Fox, 58, who was the Panthers’ head coach in 2003 when they lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. “To be able to come back, be on the sideline, be in those meeting rooms, those late-night meetings with the coaches, players, and all the sacrifices that go into these things, it feels outstanding.”
The Patriots lost for the third time in eight AFC championship games under coach Bill Belichick. He and Brady, who have been together since 2000, have not won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season.
“Losing is not easy,” Brady said. “I give them a lot of credit. They are going to be tough to beat in a couple weeks.”
On an unseasonably warm day in the 60s, the Broncos played with the offensive and defensive balance they have discovered this postseason.
Their receiving corps consistently won at the line of scrimmage and separated on the perimeter and down the field. The size, speed, physicality and agility of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas were too much for the Patriots’ defenders, especially after top cornerback Aqib Talib left the game in the first half with knee and rib injuries.
Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown to Jacob Tamme in the second quarter and a 3-yarder to Demaryius Thomas in the third.
“They did a good job mixing up plays, and, as always, he did an excellent job of reading the defenses,” Belichick said. “And he got us in some situations that were less than ideal with his astute play-calling and recognition.”
The Broncos are accustomed to such offensive domination under Manning. But on Sunday, their defense matched that output.
In building a 23-3 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Broncos limited the Patriots to 160 total yards. Brady finished 24 of 38 for 277 yards, one touchdown pass and a touchdown run, but he also had some critical misfires.
Late in the first quarter, receiver Julian Edelman got behind the defense on a play-action stretch play to the right, but Brady overthrew him. Then Brady overthrew an open Austin Collie deep down the right sideline in the final 30 seconds of the first half.
Neither team turned the ball over, but the Broncos made enough plays at decisive moments.
Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton sacked Brady on fourth-and-3 from the Broncos’ 29-yard line late in the third with the Broncos up 20-3. His two-handed swim move beat Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins.
And when the Patriots scored their final touchdown and threatened to make it a one-possession game with 3 minutes, 7 seconds remaining, defensive end Shaun Phillips came around the edge unblocked and tackled running back Shane Vareen on the two-point conversion attempt.
“As a defense, we wanted to rise to the occasion,” Terrance Knighton said. “We knew our offense was going to come out and get a rhythm, and we just wanted to do our part.”
Thank you Chicago Tribune.
Seahawks squeak by 49ers to reach Super Bowl
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down and Seattle’s top-ranked defense forced two late turnovers, lifting the Seahawks to their second Super Bowl with a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC championship Sunday.
Seattle will meet Denver for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.
The conference champs had the best records in the league, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since 2009.
PEYTON Manning and the Denver Broncos will meet the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII after overcoming the New England Patriots with a 26-16 victory.
The Seahawks earned their place in NFL’s showpiece event with a 23-17 win against the 49ers.
Seattle’s Malcolm Smith intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone with 22 seconds remaining to halt a potential game-winning drive for the 49ers and send the Seahawks to the February 3 (AEDT) championship game in New Jersey.
Less than three years after being unable to throw a football because of his surgically ravaged neck and nerve endings, Manning will get a chance for his second title and will try to become the first quarterback to win one with two different teams.
After taking the final knee, Manning stuffed the football in his helmet and ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady.
The Indy-turned-Denver quarterback improved to 5-10 lifetime against New England’s QB but 2-1 in AFC title games.
It was far from a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment of the NFL’s two best quarterbacks of their generation.
But Manning, who finished 32 for 43 for 400 yards and two short touchdown passes, 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.
Manning 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: A pair of scoring drives that lasted a few seconds over seven minutes; they were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for the Broncos (15-3).
Manning capped the second with a 3-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas – who got inside the overmatched Alfonzo Dennard and left his feet to make the catch – for a 20-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
From there, it was catch-up time for Brady and the Pats, and they are not built for that.
A team that averaged more than 200 yards on the ground the past three weeks didn’t have much quick-strike capability.
Brady, who threw for most of his 277 yards in comeback mode, actually 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.
Manning insisted the showdown against Brady was more Broncos vs. Patriots than Manning vs. Brady. He lets others decide who’s the greatest at this or that.
But he earned a chance to improve on his already-sterling legacy, one that figures to include a fifth MVP award come Super Bowl week.
A win at MetLife Stadium would put him in the same company as his brother, Eli, along with John Elway, Roger Staubach and others as a two-time Super Bowl winner.