Gruntington Post [Denver] - Home field was a good luck charm for both teams hosting the NFC and AFC Championship games today. Just hours ago, the Carolina Panthers had very little trouble crushing the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Field in Charlotte. Final score: 49-15. That part was somewhat expected, given the continuing rise of Panthers QB Cam Newton and the strong team behind him.
The young Carolina fan below, photographed by AP's Bob Leverone, was the happy recipient of one of Newton's touchdown balls during the first half of tonight's game.
What wasn't so expected was the upset of the New England Patriots earlier this afternoon in the AFC Championship game. Blame it on the altitude. Blame it on the Patriot’s stupid Microsoft tablets that didn’t work (LOL!). But I think we have to give credit to the Denver Broncos for earning their upset victory over the Patriots that won them a spot across from the Panthers at Super Bowl 50 in two weeks.
A brutal defensive battle all afternoon, it was a fight that saw the mighty Patriots offense – and the unstoppable Tom Brady – shut down so effectively that they trailed Denver every second of the entire game. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning struggled to score 20 points against the powerful NE defensive teams (final 20-18), and was, in fact, outperformed by Brady in passing and total yards, prevailing with a better rushing game. But it was the Broncos defensive players who won the day.
They didn’t take it easy on Brady, either. He was only sacked 4 times, but he felt it more than the older Manning did with his 3 sacks. In the second quarter, the CBS cameras made it a point to zoom in on Brady’s very bloody left forearm and heavily grass-stained jersey.
The Panthers and the Broncos will now face each other at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, on February 7th.