BOSTON (CBS) – Sunday marked an abrupt end for a Patriots team that had fought all season, as their quest for another championship came to an end Sunday afternoon with a 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game.
“It’s always a tough way for the season to end like that, but you have to give Denver a lot of credit. Coach Fox and his players did a good job, a better job than we did,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after the loss. “I thought we played hard and were ready to go, we just didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t do things quite well enough, and Denver did them better than we did. That’s why they deserved to win and move on. Congratulations to them.”
The Patriots had no answers for Peyton Manning and his Broncos offense, who dominated the Patriots for 506 yards. Manning picked the Patriots’ secondary apart, and feasted on the group when corner Aqib Talib left with an injury in the second quarter. The Broncos quarterback never felt pressure from the New England defense, who didn’t register a QB hit all afternoon, and the Broncos were able to put points on the board on six straight possession.
The Broncos never trailed in Sunday’s game, and dominated control of the clock throughout. The Broncos held the ball for over 35 minutes, giving Tom Brady and his offense very few chances to mount one of those famous comebacks they pulled off three times during the regular season.
The New England offense was never able to get things going, as they started their day with back-to-back three-and-outs. They stranded numerous opportunities on third down and were never able to established their running attack, which managed just 64 yards on 16 carries.
New England didn’t find the end zone until early in the fourth quarter, and by then it was too little, too late.
“We got beat by a good football team that plays really well at home,” said Brady, who finished the day with 277 passing yards and a touchdown. “We have a good team; we just didn’t play well enough today. Only one team gets to advance. That’s the NFL playoffs.”
“When you play a good team the margin of error is pretty slim. We dug too big a hole and couldn’t do enough,” he said. “They have a good team and made a lot of plays. I give them a lot of credit.”
“Certainly, I wish I could’ve done more to help us out,” said Brady
“Unfortunately we’ve been here before,” said Belichick. “We’ve won AFC Championship games and we’ve lost them. We’ll move on; we have to… Starting tomorrow we’re on to 2014.”
And for the 2014 season, the motivation remains the same.
“For the New England Patriots it’s to win every time you take the field,” said Brady. “We did a decent job to get ourselves to this position. There were two teams playing and only one gets to advance. The team that played better today won.”