Saturday, December 27, 2014

Super Bowl 2014: Denver Broncos headed to 7th championship game

Peyton Manning will be the third quarterback to start in the Super Bowl with two teams.

The Denver Broncos are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 years after defeating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, 26-16. It is the seventh trip to the Super Bowl for the franchise and the third for quarterback Peyton Manning, although it is his first trip since joining the Broncos.

Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday as the Broncos dominated Tom Brady and the Patriots for most of the game. With Aqib Talib injured, the Patriots had no answer for Denver's record-setting passing attack -- particularly Demaryius Thomas. Thomas was routinely targeted, finishing with seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.

The Denver defense played one of its best games of the season, holding the Patriots out of the end zone for the first three quarters.

The Broncos lost in their first four trips to the Super Bowl before breaking out with back-to-back victories at the conclusion of the 1997 and 1998 NFL seasons. Led by John Elway, who now serves as the team's executive vice president of football operations, the Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway was named Super Bowl MVP in the latter, finishing with 336 yards passing, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith and a 3-yard rushing touchdown.

For Manning, it's the first trip to the Super Bowl since a loss to the New Orleans Saints four years ago that featured a game-clinching interception thrown by the Colts passer in the final minutes of the game. He will join Kurt Warner and Craig Morton as the only quarterbacks to ever start a Super Bowl with two different teams, and can become the first to win with two teams.

In two Super Bowl appearances, Manning has completed 56-of-83 for 580 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His sole Lombardi Trophy victory came seven years ago in Super Bowl XLI when the Colts earned a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.

It has been even longer for head coach John Fox, who hasn't earned a trip to the Super Bowl since the Carolina Panthers faced the New England Patriots 10 years ago in Super Bowl XXXVIII. A game-winning field goal from Adam Vinatieri gave the Patriots the victory, which means Fox will have a chance at his first career championship ring in two weeks.

The 2012 Broncos led by Manning were on the doorstep of a trip to the AFC Conference Championship before a 70-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones that dropped over the head of safety Rahim Moore tied up the game and sent it to overtime. A 47-yard field goal by Justin Tucker sealed the deal and the Ravens earned victories over the Patriots and 49ers to earn a Super Bowl win.

The 2011 season ended at the same point for the Broncos, as an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to Thomas sent the Broncos to the Divisional round before a 45-10 loss to the Patriots ended the season and Tebow's time with the team.

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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