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The NFL Conference Finals were played this weekend and the two games couldn’t have been more different. The end result was probably what most people expected it to be, with the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers going through to Super Bowl 50 which will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, 2016.
Saturday’s game was played in Denver, with the home Broncos hosting the New England Patriots. The game was another legendary Tom Brady – Payton Manning matchup and it did not disappoint. The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd in surprisingly sunny conditions for Colorado this time of the year.
The Broncos started the game in the best way possible, with Manning throwing a touchdown pass halfway through the first quarter. Later in the quarter they intercepted a pass by Brady and then they turned the ball over themselves with a backwards pass. On the ensuing drive, Stephen Jackson had a one-yard running touchdown. The surprise came when Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point for the first time since his rookie season.
The Broncos’ defense continued putting pressure on Brady and it resulted in another turnover which was converted into another touchdown early in the second quarter. Owen Daniels scored again and turned out to be the surprising hero of the game for the Denver team. The teams got a few field goals over the next half an hour, with the main storyline being the insane pressure on Tom Brady by the Broncos defenders who were sacking, hitting and intercepting his passes all day long.
In the fourth quarter, C.J. Williams went for what would turn out to be a decisive run of the game, setting up the field goal that would put the result at 20-12 for the Broncos. Brady and Gronkowski got the ball mere yards to the end zone on a number of possessions, but they only managed to score with a few seconds left on the clock. They went for the two-point conversion to try and send the game to overtime, but the Broncos defense did its thing once again, intercepting Brady’s pass for the 20-16 win. The Sunday matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals was a completely different kind of game where the home team dominated from beginning to end, keeping the game out of reach for the Arizona team. Early on, it was Ted Ginn, Jr. who was breaking down the Cardinals’ defense with his ridiculous runs which got the Panthers an early 10-0 lead. An 86-yard TD soon made it 17-0.
Despite a second-quarter touchdown for the Cardinals, the rest of the game went even worse for them. They started coughing up the ball left and right and thanks to some spectacular play from Cam Newton, the final result was 49-15. The Panthers were just too good for the Cardinals, plain and simple. It is going to be one hell of a Super Bowl this February.