By Courtney ClarkeNew_England_Patriots_logo
Live Wire Staff Writer

Trailing by two in the fourth quarter with a spot in Super Bowl 50 on the line, Tom Brady’s two point conversion pass attempt was intercepted by former teammate Aqib Talib. The Broncos defensive stand was enough to give them a 20-18 win and secure its trip to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where they faced – and defeated – the Carolina Panthers.

The Super Bowl is over and the Pats were at home watching it, not out there playing in it. Why?

This seasons AFC Championship game featured two of the NFL’s most prolific quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The game proved to be intriguing on many levels. The Patriots were looking for their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in last year’s championship game. Brady and Coach Bill Belichick have led the Patriots to a total of four Super Bowl championships.

Brady’s counterpart, Manning, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in both pass yards and touchdown passes was looking to potentially end his career on a high note. Manning went on to become the first quarterback to win the Super Bowl starting for two different teams. He is also the oldest quarterback, at 39, to start in the Super Bowl. Manning’s first Super Bowl win came with the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 41 where he was also the MVP.

But back to the AFC Championship game. The Patriots entered Sports Authority Field at Mile High the favorites to defeat the Broncos. The question that many are asking is why did the defending Champs come up short in such a big game?

Of course they were matched up against a Broncos defense that allowed the fewest yards in the NFL. They ranked fourth in the league scoring defense, but to some that shouldn’t be enough to contain the third highest scoring team. New England entered the post season bothered by a number of injuries to key players most notably injuries to the offensive line.

Trailing Denver the entire game Brady was sacked four times and hit a season high 20 times. Shortly after the loss, the Patriots decided to part ways with the offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. One can point the finger at the makeshift offensive line and injuries that plagued the Patriots. However, the reliable kicker Stephen Gostkowski placed the loss solely on his shoulders after a missed PAT earlier in the gamer. Let’s not mention the absence of a running game that played a huge factor in Brady attempting 56 passes. Brady’s only passing touchdown of the game came with 12 seconds in the fourth quarter to Rob Gronkowski.

Whatever issues the New England Patriots faced during the 2015-2016 regular and post season will most definitely be addressed during the off season. The Patriots are looking to fill the void at both the offensive line and running back positions. With an aging quarterback in Brady, who still looks sharp, the Patriots will look to rebound next season with hopes at another run at the championship.