NFL Divisional Recap: Broncos, Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks Advance
The National Football League is down to its Final Four in the march to the Super Bowl XLVIII.
In the American Football Conference championship next Sunday, the New England Patriots are at the Denver Broncos. The Patriots won the regular-season match-up in Foxborough, Mass.
In the National Football Conference championship next Sunday, it is the San Francisco 49ers at the Seattle Seahawks. The two team split their NFC West Division games.
Here's a recap.
Denver 24, San Diego 17
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and the Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 24-17 in Denver.
Manning threw touchdown passes in each of the first and second quarters to stake Denver to a 14-0 halftime lead. The Broncos defense held San Diego to 45 yards of total offense in the first half.
After Denver extended its lead to 17-0 on Matt Prater's 45-yard field goal in the third quarter, Philip Rivers rallied the Chargers by throwing touchdown passes of 16 and 24 yards to Keenan Allen in the fourth quarter. Those two scores were sandwiched around Knowshon Moreno's 3-yard TD run for the Broncos.
Nick Novak kicked a 30-yard field goal that brought San Diego within seven with 3:53 to play, but the Chargers defense couldn't stop the Manning-led offense from running out the clock by driving the ball down the field.
Rivers finished with 217 passing yards and the two touchdowns to Allen, who caught six passes for 142 yards in the game.
San Francisco 23, Carolina 10
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for one touchdown and ran for another as San Francisco won 23-10 in Charlotte, N.C.
The 49ers took a 13-10 lead on Kaepernick's 1-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with just five seconds to play in the first half. They increased their advantage to 20-10 on a 4-yard run by Kaepernick early in the third quarter and tacked on a 34-yard field goal by Phil Dawson in the fourth quarter.
Kaepernick finished with 196 passing yards for San Francisco. Niners' wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught eight passes for 136 yards, and teammate Frank Gore carried 17 times for 84 yards.
Cam Newton led the Panthers with 267 yards passing, including a touchdown, and he added 54 rushing yards on 10 carries. He also threw two interceptions that halted Carolina drives.
New England 43, Indianapolis 22
LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns, and the host Patriots dominated the Colts 43-22.
Blount ran for three of his scores in the first half as New England bolted out to a 21-12 halftime lead. The Colts were still within a score at the end of the third quarter courtesy of Andrew Luck's 35-yard touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill.
Blount's 73-yard run early in the fourth quarter coupled with Stevan Ridley's 1-yard TD run on New England's next possession helped send the Patriots to their third straight AFC title game.
Tom Brady threw for 198 yards for New England, which scored a franchise playoff-record six rushing touchdowns, all from Blount and Ridley.
Luck threw for 331 yards and two scores for Indianapolis, but he was intercepted four times. T.Y. Hilton caught four passes for 103 yards for the Colts.
Seattle 23, New Orleans 15
Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and the host Seahawks held off the Saints 23-15 in rainy and windy conditions.
Seattle had taken a commanding 23-8 lead on Lynch's 31-yard touchdown run with 2:40 to play, but the Saints refused to fade, scoring on a Drew Brees' 9-yard pass to Marques Colston on their next drive.
New Orleans recovered Golden Tate's fumble of the ensuing onside kick with 24 seconds left in the game. Colston then inexplicably threw a forward-lateral instead of getting out of bounds after making a reception at the Seattle 37-yard-line with eight seconds to play. The resulting penalty resulted in the remaining time running off the clock.
The Seahawks took a 16-0 lead into halftime on the strength of three Steven Hauschka field goals and a 15-yard touchdown run by Lynch. The scoring run was set up by Michael Bennett's recovery of a Mark Ingram fumble at the New Orleans' 24-yard line.
Brees finished with 309 yards passing and the touchdown to Colston, who caught 11 passes for 144 yards.