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Live Blog: Patriots @ Broncos: Second half

The Denver Broncos enter the second half up 17-9 over the New England Patriots. Denver will receive the ball to start the final 30 minutes of the AFC Championship game.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC Championship game pits the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots against their AFC arch nemesis Denver Broncos. The weather is perfect and it is Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning for the 17th time in their storied careers. The winner goes to Super Bowl 50!

Here is what happened in the first half.

First Half Recap

To start the game,the Patriots decided to take the ball first for the first time I could remember. It appears to have jinxed the Patriots as after a quick first down the drive ended with some great pass defense by the Broncos.

Peyton Manning would lead the Broncos methodically down the field with some great intermediate throws capping the drive off with an impressive pass down the middle of the field to Owen Daniels to put the Broncos up 7-0 in the first quarter.

The Broncos defense steps up the pressure on Tom Brady to force a quick three and out on the Patriots next possession, but the Patriots defense would step up to force their own three and out.

After a 28 yard punt return by Danny Amendola, the Patriots set up shop at their own 40 yard line. However, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the Broncos defense would end the drive on a Derek Wolfe sack on Brady.

On the Broncos next drive, Ronnie Hillman dropped a lateral and gave up on the play, giving the ball right back to the Patriots. Predictably, the turnover resulted in an easy Patriots touchdown. Somehow, the Patriots miss the extra point. The Broncos still lead 7-6.

On the ensuing possession, Manning would hit Emmanuel Sanders deep down the sideline. The ball was underthrown, but Sanders would haul in the pass by out jumping Malcolm Butler. The quarter ends with the Broncos at the Patriots 39 yard line.

Unfortunately, the drive would stall on two incomplete passes. It's now up to the defense to keep the Patriots from stealing away more momentum. That they did with Von Miller intercepting Brady onside the Patriots 20 yard line.

Three plays later, Manning would hit Daniels a second time for the touchdown. Broncos up 14-6.

On the next possession, Brady converts a third down on a 19 yard completion. The next third down was converted by a ticky tack holding penalty on the Broncos defensive secondary. Somehow, Brady runs for 11 yards on a third and 10 to convert to put the Patriots into field goal range. There the Broncos defense stiffened a Miller and DeMarcus Ware met at Brady's feet to take him down for a sack on the Patriots next third down. The field goal was good. Broncos still up 14-9.

Of course, the Broncos would go three and out on the next series. It's time for the defense to get the ball back to the offense for one more possession in the first half. After a rather nonsensical unsportsmanlike penalty on Kayvon Webster on the punt return, the Patriots have the ball near midfield to start their next drive.

It didn't matter, Malik Jackson would blow up Brady on third down and the ball fluttered right into the hands of Darian Stewart for the interception. It's Broncos ball near midfield with the first half waning.

A false start and a sack puts Manning and the Broncos into a 2nd and 22 to start the drive. Not Good. The Broncos would give the ball back to the Patriots for one last hurrah in the first half. His last hurrah would be a three and out to give Manning one last hurrah.

Manning would take advantage, getting the Broncos into field goal range for a Brandon McManus 52 yard field goal to put the Broncos up 17-9 with thirty seconds left in the first half.


SB Nation blogs: Pats Pulpit and Mile High Report

Second Half Live Blog