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Broncos beat Patriots to reach Super Bowl

Jan 20, 2014 - 2:59 AM Denver, CO ( - Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady's single- season record for touchdown passes and then one-upped him in the AFC Championship Game.

Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns and the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots 26-16 on Sunday.

The Broncos advanced to Super Bowl XLVIII, where they will play the Seattle Seahawks, who defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 23-17, in the NFC Championship Game later on Sunday.

Manning completed 32-of-43 passes for the Broncos, who will appear in their seventh Super Bowl.

Manning is 5-4 in his last nine matchups against Brady -- including the postseason -- after dropping the first six meetings between the two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks. They have both won a pair of home playoff games against one another.

Sunday's game marked the third AFC Championship Game meeting in the last 11 years between the two, dating back to the 2003 season when Brady's Patriots got the best of Manning's Colts.

Brady and New England downed Indianapolis in the divisional round a season later but Manning and the Colts got revenge in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.

Less than three years ago, Manning was recovering from a surgically-repaired neck. Now he'll get an opportunity to win his second Super Bowl ring in the home stadium of younger brother Eli Manning on Feb. 2 at the Meadowlands.

Manning's 55 touchdown passes surpassed Brady's single-season mark of 50.

The Broncos outgained the Patriots 507-320.

"You can rename the AFC Championship after the Patriots, they've been here so many times and they know how to win big games," Manning said. "To beat them is a significant win."

In Week 12 this season, Brady rallied the Patriots after Denver jumped out to a 24-0 halftime and led them to a 34-31 overtime win in Foxboro.

There was no Brady comeback this time.

Denver led 13-3 at halftime and Manning came out of the break to lead the Broncos on their longest time-consuming drive of the season.

He was 6-of-7 for 53 yards on the opening 13-play, 80-yard drive to start the third, which gave Denver a 20-3 cushion. The Broncos picked up six first downs on the 7:08 sequence -- to that point, the Patriots had six first downs the entire game -- and Manning flipped a 3-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas, who benefited when Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib left with a knee injury in the second quarter, had seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown in the triumph.

Brady, who was looking to make an NFL record sixth Super Bowl appearance, was 24-of-38 for 277 yards and a touchdown for New England, which played in its third straight AFC Championship Game.

"When you play good teams, the margin of error is slim all day. We dug ourselves in a pretty big hole," Brady said.

LeGarrette Blount was limited to six yards rushing on five attempts after going off for 166 yards with a franchise-record four touchdowns against the Colts in the Divisional round.

"They didn't play the Broncos last week," longtime Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who will be making his first Super Bowl appearance, said.

New England moved the ball to the Denver 29 on its ensuing drive, but instead of electing to try a long field goal, went for a 4th-and-3. Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton came through the line to sack Brady for a 10-yard loss.

Matt Prater booted through a 19-yard field goal on Denver's next drive before Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 7-yard score to get New England within 23-10.

After Prater's 54-yard field goal staked Denver a 26-10 cushion with 7:00 left, Brady capped a 10-play, 80-yard sequence with a 5-yard TD run. Shane Vereen, though, was stopped at the line of scrimmage on the two-point try and Eric Decker recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt to essentially seal the outcome with 3:06 to play.

The game's first points came on Prater's 27-yard field goal on Denver's second offensive series. New England went three-and-out on its first two touches.

Denver's second-longest drive by time this year came during the second quarter. Manning rolled right before finding Jacob Tamme in the front of the end zone to finish the 7:50, 15-play, 93-yard march and make it 10-0.

Stephen Gostkowski and Prater traded field goals of 47 and 35 yards to give Denver its 10-point halftime edge.

Game Notes

The Broncos were 7-of-13 on third down and New England went 6-of-12 ... Edelman caught 10 passes for 89 yards ... Denver kept the ball for 35:44 ... New England became the first team since the 2001-04 Philadelphia Eagles to go to at least three consecutive conference championship games.