The time is finally upon us. The Conference Championships have been decided and in two weeks from now the victors from each conference will be facing off in the Super Bowl. So let’s take a look at an NFL Conference Championship wrap to see how each team got there.
New England Patriots Vs. Denver Broncos
Broncos defeated the Patriots 18-20
All of the discussion in the lead up to this game may have been about Brady Vs. Manning, but defence was the theme of the day as the Broncos held on in the final seconds of the game and earned a place in the Super Bowl.
And while Manning’s passing ability was called into question during week, the Broncos opened up their first drive with three passing plays. It signalled that the Broncos were willing to throw the ball, and it started a drive that went for 12 plays and culminated in a touchdown when Manning found Owen Daniels with a 21 yard pass.
— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) January 24, 2016
The Patriots were able to reply when an incomplete Manning pass was ruled as backwards on review and resulted in the Patriots taking possession on Denver’s 22 yard line. The turnover setup Steven Jackson for a 1 yard rushing touchdown however, when Stephen Goskowski missed his first extra point in 523 attempts, the Patriots finished the quarter 7-6 behind the Broncos.
The streak is over! 523 #NEvsDEN
— Lucas (@MVPLV) January 24, 2016
The Broncos next score came early in the second quarter after Von Miller picked off a short Brady pass that was intended for Gronkowski, giving them possession on the New England 16 yard line. Manning then found Owen Daniels again, this time on the right side of the end zone for his second touchdown.
With the exception of the following New England drive and the Broncos final drive of the quarter, both of which resulted in field goals, neither team was able to make much ground for the remainder of the second quarter. And at half time New England only had one third down conversion from seven attempts; this was a stat that proved an ominous sign as they entered the change rooms 9-17 down.
The third quarter saw both teams put a massive amount of pressure on one another’s quarterbacks which resulted both Brady and Manning being sacked twice in the quarter. Von Miller for the Broncos and Jamie Collins for the Patriots were both devastating to the opposition quarterbacks. This resulted in an inability from both sides drive far into opposition territory, and as a consequence the only score for the quarter came from a New England field goal.
A field goal early in the fourth quarter put the Broncos eight points in front, but still within striking distance for the Patriots. The Patriots inability to convert on third down meant that three times they opted for a fourth down conversions instead of kicking field goals. The first two attempts proved unsuccessful, but on their third attempt with 17 seconds remaining Brady found Gronkowski in end zone for a touchdown. But the necessary two point conversion was unsuccessful and with only seconds remaining in the game, the Broncos protected an on-side kick and earned a place in the Super Bowl.
— Aussie Guys NFL (@aussieguysnfl) January 24, 2016
Arizona Cardials Vs. Carolina Panthers
Panthers defeated the Cardinals 15-49
They said that there was no way the Panthers would get a start against the Cardinals like they did against the Seahawks. They were wrong. It may not have been as instantly sensational as last week, but it was no less devastating. And the only difference was that this week at no point in time did the Panthers take their foot off the gas and let the Cardinals back into the game.
And while Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer continued his shaky form from last week, any doubts there were about Cam Newton and the Panthers were put to rest in a game that was one sided from the very beginning.
Cam Newton was devastating throwing 19 completions from 28 attempts for 335 yards. This included two touchdown passes and another two rushing touchdowns. In fact, Newton chose to carry the ball 10 times during the game for 47 yards, and proved not just his strength and agility outside of the pocket, but showed that he’s also not scared to take hit.
Cam Newton rolls right…
Gets a convoy…
— NFL (@NFL) January 25, 2016
Palmer on the other hand started and finished the game looking shaky. He was intercepted four times by the Panthers defence and sacked another three times. Palmer failed to find any variety in his passing plays and was forced to rely on running back David Johnson who he connected with 15 times for 60 yards and one touchdown. The only other player Palmer connected with was Andre Ellington who he was only able to pass to once for no gain.
The Panthers on the other hand had seven receiving players and both wide receiver Cory Brown and tight end Greg Olsen clocked up 113 receiving yards a piece. Ted Gin also looked to be back in form with 52 yards from two receives.
— NFL (@NFL) January 25, 2016
But as was the case in the regular season, the Panthers made heavy use of rushing plays opting to run the ball 37 times out of 66 plays for 152 yards. These duties again fall heavily on Jonathan Stewart who travelled 83 yards from 19 attempts.
This game showed that despite the doubts, the Panthers are serious Super Bowl contenders and that Cam Newton is not only able to perform on the big stage, but he is able to revel in it. Newton soaked up the atmosphere and seemed to enjoy every moment that he was out on the field. Far from looking nervous, Newton was energised by the home crowd which only begs the question of what will he be capable of in-front of a Super Bowl audience.
Nothing brightens my mood like a cam newton dab pic.twitter.com/eMJds0FY5V
— mike connors (@mconnors32) January 25, 2016