Patriots In The AFC Championship Game

The Patriots will play in their 10th AFC Championship Game on Sunday when they visit Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver. The Patriots are 7-2 all-time in the AFC title game, and 1-1 against Manning-led teams. Here is a trip down memory lane with a look at each of the Patriots' nine AFC Championship appearances. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
History Of The Patriots In The AFC Championship Game The Patriots will play in their 10th AFC Championship Game on Sunday when they visit Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver. The Patriots are 7-2 all-time in the AFC title game, and 1-1 against Manning-led teams. Here is a trip down memory lane with a look at each of the Patriots' nine AFC Championship appearances. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Patriots made their first AFC Championship game in team history in 1985. After an 11-5 regular season, the Pats beat the Jets and Raiders in the playoffs to set up an AFC Championship tilt in Miami against the Dolphins. Tony Eason was an efficient 10-for-12 for 71 yards and three touchdowns, while the New England defense forced six Miami turnovers (two Dan Marino interceptions and four fumbles) as the Pats cruised to a 31-14 win and the franchise's first trip to the Super Bowl. They would lose to the Chicago Bears two weeks later. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
1985 AFC Championship: Patriots 31, Dolphins 14 The Patriots made their first AFC Championship game in team history in 1985. After an 11-5 regular season, the Pats beat the Jets and Raiders in the playoffs to set up an AFC Championship tilt in Miami against the Dolphins. Tony Eason was an efficient 10-for-12 for 71 yards and three touchdowns, while the New England defense forced six Miami turnovers (two Dan Marino interceptions and four fumbles) as the Pats cruised to a 31-14 win and the franchise's first trip to the Super Bowl. They would lose to the Chicago Bears two weeks later. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
It would be another decade until the Patriots made it back to the AFC title game. With Bill Parcells calling the shots from the sidelines and Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, the 1996 Patriots went 11-5 to win the AFC East and earn a first round bye. After beating the Steelers in the Divisional Round, the Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-6 at Foxboro Stadium. Curtis Martin rushed for an early touchdown, and an Otis Smith 47-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown sealed the win for New England in the fourth quarter. The Pats would go on to lose to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
1996 AFC Championship: Patriots 20, Jaguars 6 It would be another decade until the Patriots made it back to the AFC title game. With Bill Parcells calling the shots from the sidelines and Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, the 1996 Patriots went 11-5 to win the AFC East and earn a first round bye. After beating the Steelers in the Divisional Round, the Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-6 at Foxboro Stadium. Curtis Martin rushed for an early touchdown, and an Otis Smith 47-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown sealed the win for New England in the fourth quarter. The Pats would go on to lose to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Patriots were back in the AFC Championship a few years later with a new head coach and new quarterback. In Bill Belichick's second season in New England, the Patriots went 11-5 with Tom Brady taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. After a dramatic Divisional Round win over the Oakland Raiders in the famous "Snow Bowl," the Pats went in to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers 24-17 in the AFC Championship game. Troy Brown returned a punt for the game's first touchdown, and the Patriots blocked a Steelers field goal attempt and returned it for another seven points to go up 21-3 in the third quarter. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2001 AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Steelers 17 The Patriots were back in the AFC Championship a few years later with a new head coach and new quarterback. In Bill Belichick's second season in New England, the Patriots went 11-5 with Tom Brady taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. After a dramatic Divisional Round win over the Oakland Raiders in the famous "Snow Bowl," the Pats went in to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers 24-17 in the AFC Championship game. Troy Brown returned a punt for the game's first touchdown, and the Patriots blocked a Steelers field goal attempt and returned it for another seven points to go up 21-3 in the third quarter. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Bledsoe was called upon in the 2001 AFC title game when Brady went down with an injury in the second quarter. Bledsoe hit David Patten for a touchdown in the second quarter, and helped lead the Patriots to the 24-17 victory. But Brady was back in there the following week when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. (Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
2001 AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Steelers 17 Bledsoe was called upon in the 2001 AFC title game when Brady went down with an injury in the second quarter. Bledsoe hit David Patten for a touchdown in the second quarter, and helped lead the Patriots to the 24-17 victory. But Brady was back in there the following week when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. (Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
After missing the playoffs in 2002, Brady and the Patriots were right back to the top of the football world in 2003. But before they could win their second Super Bowl in three years, they had to take care of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts first. It was no problem at all, as the defense picked Manning off four times -- three coming from corner Ty Law.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
2003 AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Colts 14 After missing the playoffs in 2002, Brady and the Patriots were right back to the top of the football world in 2003. But before they could win their second Super Bowl in three years, they had to take care of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts first. It was no problem at all, as the defense picked Manning off four times -- three coming from corner Ty Law. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
One year later the Pats were back in the AFC Championship game, again taking on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. But unlike 2001, this one wasn't even close. A Rodney Harrison pick-six gave the Pats a 24-3 lead in the second quarter, and Corey Dillon and Deion Branch each ran for a touchdown in the second half as the Pats cruised to a 41-27 win. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks later to capture their second straight Super Bowl. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2004 AFC Championship: Patriots 41, Steelers 27 One year later the Pats were back in the AFC Championship game, again taking on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. But unlike 2001, this one wasn't even close. A Rodney Harrison pick-six gave the Pats a 24-3 lead in the second quarter, and Corey Dillon and Deion Branch each ran for a touchdown in the second half as the Pats cruised to a 41-27 win. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks later to capture their second straight Super Bowl. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Patriots finished the 2006 season 12-4, fourth in the AFC. After beating the Jets at home on Wild Card weekend and pulling off an improbable win over the Chargers in San Diego, they had a date with Manning and the Colts at the RCA Dome. The Pats jumped out to a 21-3 lead, but the Colts stormed back in the second half. New England led 34-31 with four minutes to go, but Manning led the Colts down the field and Joseph Addai gave them the lead with a three-yard touchdown with a minute left. Brady was picked off by Marlin Jackson with 17 seconds left to end the Patriots' season, and Manning went on to win his first -- and only -- Super Bowl two weeks later. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
2006 AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34 The Patriots finished the 2006 season 12-4, fourth in the AFC. After beating the Jets at home on Wild Card weekend and pulling off an improbable win over the Chargers in San Diego, they had a date with Manning and the Colts at the RCA Dome. The Pats jumped out to a 21-3 lead, but the Colts stormed back in the second half. New England led 34-31 with four minutes to go, but Manning led the Colts down the field and Joseph Addai gave them the lead with a three-yard touchdown with a minute left. Brady was picked off by Marlin Jackson with 17 seconds left to end the Patriots' season, and Manning went on to win his first -- and only -- Super Bowl two weeks later. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Patriots improved to 18-0 and had a shot at perfection after their 21-12 win over the Chargers in the 2007 AFC Championship. They survived three Brady interceptions thanks to a strong day by Laurence Maroney on the ground (122 yards and a touchdown) and the defense holding the Chargers to just four field goals. With the win, the Patriots became the first team to start a season 18-0. You know what happened next though... (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
2007 AFC Championship: Patriots 21, Chargers 12 The Patriots improved to 18-0 and had a shot at perfection after their 21-12 win over the Chargers in the 2007 AFC Championship. They survived three Brady interceptions thanks to a strong day by Laurence Maroney on the ground (122 yards and a touchdown) and the defense holding the Chargers to just four field goals. With the win, the Patriots became the first team to start a season 18-0. You know what happened next though... (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
After a four-year hiatus, the Patriots were back in the AFC Championship Game in 2011, hosting the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots won despite Brady not throwing a touchdown, with the QB jumping over a pile of Ravens at the goal line early in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
2011 AFC Championship: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 After a four-year hiatus, the Patriots were back in the AFC Championship Game in 2011, hosting the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots won despite Brady not throwing a touchdown, with the QB jumping over a pile of Ravens at the goal line early in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
But it was really the defense that won it for the Patriots in 2011. With the Pats holding on to a 23-20 lead in the final seconds, Sterling Moore knocked a potential game-winning touchdown out of the hands of Lee Evans. A few plays later, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime, and the Patriots were off to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2011 AFC Championship: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 But it was really the defense that won it for the Patriots in 2011. With the Pats holding on to a 23-20 lead in the final seconds, Sterling Moore knocked a potential game-winning touchdown out of the hands of Lee Evans. A few plays later, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime, and the Patriots were off to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Patriots hosted the Ravens in the AFC Championship again in 2012, but this one was all Ravens. After trailing 13-7 at halftime, Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns in the second half (including two fourth-quarter scores to Aquan Boldin) as the Ravens shut out Brady and Co. to advance to the Super Bowl with a 28-13 win. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
2012 AFC Championship: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 The Patriots hosted the Ravens in the AFC Championship again in 2012, but this one was all Ravens. After trailing 13-7 at halftime, Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns in the second half (including two fourth-quarter scores to Aquan Boldin) as the Ravens shut out Brady and Co. to advance to the Super Bowl with a 28-13 win. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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