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NFL Conference Weekend Review

Two very contrasting games took place on Conference Sunday in the NFL. Firstly, the Patriots-Broncos game went down to the wire, with a failed 2-point conversion giving Denver victory. The second game of the night was a different story, though, with Carolina destroying the Cardinals in a 34-point victory.


(#2) New England Patriots 18 – 20 (#1) Denver Broncos

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A failed 2-point conversion gave the Broncos victory, and Manning just his 6th win over Tom Brady. The Bronco’s became the first time this season to force the Patriots to punt three times in the opening quarter, and it paid off. They took the lead when Peyton Manning found Owen Daniels from 21yds out. The WR was free and ran into the end zone without being touched. The end of the first quarter saw a shock, though. Steven Jackson ran in for a 1yd score for the Patriots, but Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT, breaking a string of 523 consecutive successful PATs. Manning then found Owen Daniels again for their second TD connection of the evening, and with a FG for either side before the half, the Broncos had a 17-6 lead.

Into the second half, and Von Miller was having the game of his life. He finished with 2.5 sacks on Tom Brady, as well as a forced fumble and an INT. What a day to turn in a performance like that. And it was the Denver defence that did the work in the third quarter, restricting the Patriots to just a FG. A 12-yard scramble from Manning was the most talked about play of the game, and his longest run in the playoffs since his rookie year in 1998. However, there would be more drama, as Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone for a TD in the final minute, making it 20-18. They went for the 2-point conversion to tie the game, but Brady’s pass was tipped, and intercepted by Bradley Roby, which ended the game.

Peyton Manning could become the first QB to lead two different franchises to titles. In what could be his last season in the NFL, it could be a fitting end to arguably, the greatest quarterback of all time. For Brady and the Patriots, their title defence is over, and they will look to 2016 as another year of opportunity.


(#2) Arizona Cardinals 15 – 49 (#1) Carolina Panthers

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The Panthers destroyed Arizona, scoring 49 on the way to Super Bowl 50. They were 17-0 up at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a fantastic 22yd run from Ted Ginn Jr, which saw him run across the field.. Twice. Then Cam Newton picked out Corey Brown for an 86yd score, a Panthers record long in the postseason. David Johnson got a TD back for the Cardinals, but when Patrick Peterson fumbled a punt return, the Panthers had the ball once more and extended their lead, with Newton rushing from a yard. Peterson did intercept a Newton throw, and would have taken it to the end zone but for Ted Ginn Jr tracking back and making a play on the ball.

Another Cam Newton rushing TD kicked off the second half, his 12th rushing score of the season. Carson Palmer turned the ball over six times on the day (4 INTs, 2 FUM), but he did get a passing TD in the final quarter. His 21yd pass to Darren Fells brought the Cardinals to within 19, but they never had a chance in the second half. Newton found Devin Funchess for his second TD throw of the day, and fourth in all, before Luke Kuechly returned Palmer fourth INT for a TD, adding to his fumble recovery earlier in the day.

Palmer will never again have a day as bad as this one. Kurt Coleman picked the Cardinals QB off twice, with Tre Boston and Luke Kuechly also getting in on the errant throws from their #3. At one stage, the Cardinals turned the ball over on three consecutive plays. First, Peterson muffed the punt return, before Palmer fumbled, and then threw and INT in the next two drives. Take nothing away from what is the best side in the NFL, however. Carolina were amazing, and they will go on to Santa Clara having lost just a single game in the 2015 season.


In two weeks time, we will find out who the best team in the NFL is. The two best sides go head to head, with the 12-4 Denver Broncos facing off against the 15-1 Carolina Panthers. The QBs will go into it on differing records, with Cam Newton breaking all the records known to man this season for rushing/passing combinations, while Peyton Manning is still on the return from injury, but proved he can manage a game like he did at Mile High last night.

It will be a game dominated by defence, you would imagine, with the two best defences in the league going against each other. Super Bowl 50 could be one of the best ever ends to an NFL season.

February 7, Santa Clara, California. Don’t miss it!

Arizona Cardinals Bradley Roby Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Carson Palmer Conference Weekend Denver Broncos Luke Kuechly New England Patriots Owen Daniels Peyton Manning Rob Gronkowski Stephen Gostkowski Super Bowl 50 Ted Ginn Jr Tom Brady

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