Josh McDaniels' play-calling didn't improve much despite the beard. Credit: Getty Images
How the Patriots and Broncos' AFC Championship game battled played out on CBS Sunday:
3:06 p.m. EDT-It is 63 and sunny in Denver in the dead of winter, but global warming is a myth, right?
3:08-Patriots go 3-and-out in the blink of an eye.
3:10-3rd-and-2, Peyton bobbled the snap like it was covered in grease but still completed a 7-yard pass to Decker. Worse for Pats fans: Alfonzo Dennard limped off with what looked like a shoulder injury.
3:11-21-yard catch and run for Decker, Logan Ryan subbed in for Dennard and couldn’t keep up.
3:13-Knowshon Moreno is tackled for a loss of 5 by Dont’a Hightower. Next play, Manning is incomplete on 3rd-and-9 so Denver is forced to punt. Good opening series by the Pats D on the road.
3:18-3rd-and-3 so Brady naturally looks deep to Matthew Slater. I’m shocked that didn’t work, another punt by Ryan Allen as the Patriots search for their inaugural first down.
3:21-18-yard screen pass to Moreno, that’ll be tough for the Pats to stop.
3:22-Great play by Jamie Collins to knock down a pass intended for Moreno, plus he also gave him a big hit. How did he play so sparingly early in the season?
3:23-29-yard catch by DeMaryius Thomas.
3:24-19-yard catch by Decker down to the 10, Peyton is feeling it now. Look out.
3:26-Good stop by the Pats D, Peyton sailed it over Decker to the end zone on 3rd down. 27-yard field goal by Matt Prater makes it 3-0 Broncos.
3:32-24-yard catch and run by Shane Vereen. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got beat. Damn, next play Brady had Julian Edelman wide open but put it a little too far.
3:33-18-yard catch by Edelman. Patriots offense is starting to awaken.
3:36-Michael Hoomanawanui is called for offensive pass interference on the pick play that every NFL team (especially Denver) runs. Rodgers-Cromartie is down on the ground with an injury.
3:39-Broncos lead 3-0 after first quarter. Patriots face 4th-and-16 from Denver’s 39 when they return.
3:43-11-yard run by Moreno.
3:44-Uh oh, Aqib Talib is shaken up for the Pats.
3:47-14-yard lollipop pass from Manning to Welker, only Kyle Arrington would allow that duck to be completed. Whatever happened to Peyton’s arm strength?
3:48-6-yard run by backup tight end Virgil Green, haha, his first ever carry. I’m going to guess that the Pats didn’t prepare for that.
3:49-Bogus defensive holding call on Ryan gives Denver a gift 1st down.
3:52-Terrible mistake by New England: allowing a 28-yard run by Moreno on a 3rd-and-10 draw.
3:53-9-yard run by Montee Ball down to the 2.
3:55-And CBS just gave us a stat update on how many times Peyton has said “Omaha.” I give up on life. 1-yard TD pass by Manning on a rollout to Jacob Tamme. 10-0 Broncos, Patriots offense needs some points and soon or this could get out of hand.
3:58-Broncos tied a season-high (that drive lasted 7:01) with a 15-play drive that went 93 yards for the TD.
4:01-27-yard catch by Aaron Dobson, remember him?
4:02-Talib is questionable to return with a rib injury. What is it with him getting hurt in AFC Championship Games (2nd year in a row this has happened)?
4:03-13-yard catch by Vereen, he needs more touches. Denver’s D is clearly keying on LeGarrette Blount today, doesn’t look like he’ll do much.
4:04-15-yard catch by Hooman. Keep throwing it please.
4:05-Former Charger Shaun Phillips-best known for PED suspensions-is walking off the field with an injury.
4:09-Brady gets sack for an 11-yard loss by Robert Ayers on 3rd down but Stephen Gostkowski’s 47-yard field goal cuts Denver’s lead to 10-3.
4:12-Rob Ninkovich tackles Moreno for a loss of 1.
4:13-Holding on Chris Clark negates a 13-yard catch by Welker.
4:18-26-yard catch by DeMaryius Thomas followed by a 27-yard grab. Pats really miss Talib here, nobody else can cover Denver’s monster receiver.
4:18-11-yard catch by Andre Caldwell, younger brother of Reche Caldwell.
4:19-Jon Bon Jovi is in the Patriots’ luxury box with the Krafts. They need to start hanging out more relevant rock stars.
4:23-Patriots D gets another stop, Prater hits a 35-yard field goal to make it 13-3 Denver with 25 seconds left in the 1st half.
4:25-Offsides on Philips.
4:26-Austin Collie had a step but Brady couldn’t keep the sideline pass inbounds. It is halftime with Denver leading New England 13-3. If you’re being positive, the Pats were down 24-0 at halftime when these teams met earlier this season. Haha so in other words, they’ve got the Broncos right where they want them.
4:41-Talib starts the 2nd half on the sideline, gulp.
4:44-Manning has nothing on most of his passes but his all-star crew of receivers makes up for it, 18-yard catch by Decker. It’s also a knee injury for Talib, I’m going to guess that he’s done for the day.
4:45-15-yard catch by DeMaryius Thomas. He has 97 receiving yards on only four catches. Maybe some day the Patriots will have another big-time receiver like him.
4:46-8-yard catch by Decker on a WR screen. Patriots look overmatched. Peyton has completed his last 10 passes.
4:50-5-yard catch by Julius Thomas on 3rd-and-3. Denver is 6 for 9 on 3rd down, yikes.
4:51-7-yard run by Moreno.
4:52-Another 3rd-and-3, no problem. 5-yard run by Ball.
4:54-3-yard TD catch by DeMaryius Thomas. Patriots are in serious trouble, down 20-3. That was an even longer TD drive by Denver, 13 plays and 80 yards in 7:08.
5:01-Collie with a 7-yard catch on 3rd-and-1, Pats really need points of any form here.
5:02-Broncos middle linebacker Paris Lenon is down with an injury.
5:03-Costly drop for Danny Amendola who would have had a 1st down. PS he still doesn’t have a catch today, ouch.
5:04-3rd-and-5 but 12-yard catch for Collie. So he’s better than Amendola?
5:05-Tough 9-yard run by Vereen.
5:06-Brady sneaks for 2 yards on 3rd-and-1. Good drive by New England. 8-yard run by Stevan Ridley.
5:07-Terrance Knighton tackles Ridley for a loss of 1.
5:10-Knighton sacks Brady for a loss of 10 on 4th-and-2. You can’t question Bill Belichick for that because it’s going to take much more than field goals to beat Denver.
5:12-Sealver Siliga tackles Ball for a loss of 2.
5:13-14-yard catch by Julius Thomas. Phil Simms is still second-guessing that fourth down call for New England. I guess he’s not aware that field goals are worth three points and not six.
5:15-30-yard catch for DeMaryius Thomas. Peyton has 309 yards, this is getting real ugly. 7-yard run by Ball down to New England’s 12. The third quarter mercifully ends with the Broncos in complete command up 20-3. I’m not going to say the Patriots have no chance to comeback here but it’ll take something incredible to make it close again.
5:18-Holding on Julius Thomas.
5:19-14-yard catch by Julius Thomas, the Broncos have so many playmakers on offense. It’s absurd, any half decent quarterback would have a Pro Bowl season with these weapons.
5:20-Holding on Zane Beadles, one of the best names in the NFL. 16-yard catch by Welker down to the Pats’ 2. All that’s left is a TD for Welker, that would be the final punch to the gut.
5:22-Julius Thomas drops an easy TD, there goes his spot in Canton. 20-yard field goal by Prater, Broncos lead Patriots 23-3. To think we all convinced ourselves that this would be a close game.
5:28-18-yard catch by Hooman.
5:29-20-yard catch by Collie. Nice 16-yard catch and run by Edelman, his 1st catch of the second half. Predictably, him and Blount have been completely shut down by Denver.
5:32-Jim Nantz sticks up for Jack Del Rio. Huh?
5:33-7-yard catch by Vereen, not sure how Brady got that off before he was crushed.
5:34-12-yard catch by Vereen on 4th-and-3. Edelman was wide open but Brady missed him. No worries, next play is a 7-yard TD catch by him. Patriots trim the Broncos’ lead to 23-10. If only they took that field goal earlier, right Phil? Haha oh wait, it would still be a two score game, thus not mattering at all.
5:39-Peyton has been hurried once today, no sacks or knockdowns. How is that possible?
5:39-37-yard catch by Julius Thomas, well he’s certainly been the x-factor that most believed he would be (after missing the first game vs. New England).
5:42-54-yard field goal by Prater, Broncos up 26-10 with 7 minutes left. On the bright side, it’s still only a two-score game (grasping for straws here, forgive me).
5:46-8-yard catch by Edelman. Anybody seen Amendola? 11-yard catch by Edelman on 3rd-and-2, he has been fine today. He’s going to get paid this offseason, by whom is the question.
5:48-9-yard run by Vereen.
5:49-11-yard catch by Edelman. He has 9 catches for 82 yards, you can’t realistically ask for much more than that. 11-yard run by Vereen, maybe he should have been a bigger part of the gameplan today.
5:50-18-yard catch by Collie, Pats are at least making it interesting here. 7-yard catch by Edelman down to Denver’s 5.
5:51-Haha 5-yard TD run by Brady, why not? Pats are cooked though cause on the 2-point conversion attempt, Vereen gets stuffed so it stays 26-16.
5:53-Decker recovers the onside kick and that’ll do it.
5:54-Moreno has a chest injury and cornerback Tony Carter has a concussion for Denver, something to keep in mind for the Super Bowl.
5:56-Manning has 400 yards passing, prepare for the tsunami of pathetic media slobbering over him for the next two weeks.
6:02-“Eli and Archie in the Manning's box,” - Nantz, as I puke in a trash can.
Final: Broncos 26, Patriots 16. You won’t find a much more cut and dry Patriots playoff loss than that. Nothing to second guess (if we’re being real here). The better team won and New England got as far as it could expect with this very limited roster. It’s going to be a long offseason, let’s just hope Seattle or San Francisco can beat Denver. I know I couldn’t stand another Super Bowl title for Peyton. Now let’s all start saving up our money so that the Pats can get some legit wide receivers (preferably not short white guys) to help out Brady.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate