Photo Credit: NFL.com
The Broncos and Panthers played to their style on Sunday, with the Broncos winning their 11th game that was decided by 7 or fewer points, and the Panthers getting out to a fast lead and blowing out a team by 10 or more for the 8th time this season. One game wasn’t over until the final play of the game, while the second felt over in the 1st quarter yet.
Manning vs. Brady XVII:
As was predicted, this wasn’t QB vs. QB, but more “will the Broncos defense give Brady fits” vs. “Can Manning’s arm hold up enough to let the run game win it for them.” The Patriots shocked all by electing to receive the kick, but had to punt on their first possession. The Broncos then scored a TD on their opening drive which was rare for them this season, and ultimately hold the lead until the end of the game. When the Patriots scored to finish out the 1st quarter, the amazing happened. Stephen Gostkowski, arguably the most accurate kicker in the NFL right now, missed an extra point! The year the rule was changed and everybody was clamoring on how great the rule change was, he missed the extra point!!! Arguably more people are in favor of this rule since it cost the Patriots the game, but I digress….it truly made the difference in the game. The Patriots were down by 8 for most of the game because of it. It also didn’t help that Brady seemed to be getting hit every single play. He looked frazzled. In the 4th quarter, on 3 consecutive drives, the Patriots faced 4th down tries while in FG range. The first 2 failed and they turned the ball over. The final drive of the game they went 3 and out at the 50, and faced 4th and 10 with 1:34 left. Brady amazingly hit Gronkowski for a 40 yard gain, and all of a sudden it was a game with 1st and Goal with a minute left. A few plays later it was 4th and 4, the 4th time the Patriots had a 4th down in the 4th quarter (sorry for all the 4’s). Brady seemed to throw the ball away, in between two Denver defenders, but miraculously Rob Gronkowski jumped through the middle and caught the ball for a TD! It was then 20-18 and the Patriots had a chance to tie the game with a 2 point conversion. Their entire season had come down to one play, only needing 2 yards. You could cut the suspense with a knife! Brady threw the ball to Edelman, it got tipped and intercepted, icing the game for Denver. It was a game for the ages between two of the best QB’s of all time.