The Denver Broncos got the best kind of payback for a heartbreaking loss back in Week 12 as they are now heading to Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos dominated the New England Patriots on both sides of the ball in a convincing 26-16 victory in the AFC Championship Game. It is Denver’s first trip back to the big game since the 1999 edition. It is also sweet redemption for a franchise that was bounced early from the playoffs just a season ago.
For Peyton Manning, he was able to silence the critics for at least another week. Manning silenced the notion of his poor postseason play and being knocked out in the playoffs early as he was one-and-done a year ago as the AFC no. 1 seed. He shook off notions of not being able to play in big games and cold-weather games with ease. Above all, he was able to triumph over a nemesis in Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots franchise.
Much of the lead-up to the AFC Championship Game was focused around the two quarterbacks, and deservedly so. Both Brady and Manning are future Hall-of-Famers, and Manning outplayed Brady by a considerable margin on this day. After a first-drive punt, the Broncos proceeded to put up points on every drive after until it was time to take a few victory kneel-downs.
With pin-point precision, Manning threw for exactly 400 yards, two touchdowns, and more importantly had zero sacks and turnovers. Manning made certain that with a halftime lead, a Week 12 repeat would not transpire again. On the other side of the ball, Brady and the Patriots appeared to be out of sync for much of the game, until the end where it was just too little, too late.
It is fitting that the Broncos have not been to the Super Bowl since John Elway was the quarterback. Now a decade and a half later, it is Elway who recruited Manning and who will now go to New York as the executive vice president. If the football gods were not poetic enough by treating fans to perhaps the final installment of Brady versus Manning, there will be even more poetry in motion in two weeks time.
Manning will attempt to become the first starting quarterback in the game’s history to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl victories. If he is able to complete the feat, the setting could not be more perfect than in New York. MetLife Stadium is where brother Eli Manning plays his home games at, and Eli could very well see his brother claim a title there in two weeks time.
Sound familiar? It was just two seasons ago when Peyton watched Eli do the same when the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis over Brady and the Patriots.
Throughout his entire career, Peyton Manning has calmly and coolly shrugged off his critics in nothing but a professional manner. If this is the final ride for the Bronco quarterback, the gallop has been a joy to witness. From Indy to Denver, through “Omaha” to New York, Manning is now one step closer to riding off into the sunset with a title in hand.
Sound familiar Denver fans?
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.