When the Patriots win the opening coin toss, they usually opt to defer their decision on taking the ball to the second half of the game.
They called the toss correctly on Sunday in Denver, but chose to take the ball instead. Presumably, the hope was to grab a quick lead and put the pressure on the Broncos. It didn’t work, though, and not much else has worked for the Patriots offense through the first two quarters of the AFC championship game.
The Broncos intercepted Tom Brady twice, sacked him twice and held the Patriots to 115 yards with one third down conversion on their way to a 17-9 halftime lead. The pass rush has been effective when Brady has not been sacked as well, with Malik Jackson rocking him with a big hit on what turned out to be Brady’s second turnover of the game. It’s been a great game plan from Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the Patriots have some big adjustments to make in the locker room to get things moving the other way.
The defense also forced a quick three-and-out near the two minute warning and a poor Ryan Allen punt set the Broncos up near midfield for a short drive that resulted in a 52-yard Brandon McManus field goal. The Broncos also used a short field after Von Miller picked Brady to score a touchdown and went 83 yards on their opening drive for an Owen Daniels touchdown catch.
Peyton Manning is 10-of-20 for 128 yards while Brady is 9-of-20 for 87 yards halfway through their latest matchup. If the Broncos defense can produce 30 more minutes of those numbers, they’ll be carrying Manning to his fourth Super Bowl appearance.