The game came down to one final defensive stand by a Broncos defense that flustered Tom Brady all day, sacking the Patriots legend four times while tallying 20 quarterback hits on the day.
After Brady led his team on a touchdown drive that relied mainly on dominant tight end Rob Gronkoswki (144 receiving yards, one touchdown), cornerback Aqib Talib was able to deflect a pass intended for Julian Edelman on a two-point conversion attempt, sealing a Broncos victory.
Peyton Manning looked like his old self, getting more zip on his passes despite totaling just 176 yards on the day. Manning found tight end Owen Daniels on two touchdowns in the first half, doing just enough to outpace a stymied Patriots offense.
The game ball will likely go to linebacker Von Miller, who was unblockable at times, exposing a depleted Patriots offensive line that finally broke down after a season of holding it together in spite of a talent disadvantage. Miller notched 2.5 sacks, an interception, and four quarterback hits in an awe-inspiring performance.
Brady was held in check all game, forcing desperation throws and tossing two interceptions - the game's lone turnovers.
The Broncos now travel back to the Super Bowl just two seasons removed from getting blown out by the Seattle Seahawks. That Denver team, however, relied on a No. 1 ranked, record-breaking offense, while the 2015 Broncos hang their hat on a No. 1 ranked defense.