In case you missed them this weekend, here's a catch-up on the biggest sports stories...
The AFC championship pitted Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning in the final of their many matchups. And it was a good one, with the Broncos winning 20–18. Brady was under siege all game, as a relentless Denver pass rush lead by Von Miller forced him to make several rushed throws and awkward passes off his back foot. The result was two key interceptions. Peyton Manning played just well enough to win, throwing for two touchdowns and 176 yards, and managing the ball by throwing no picks of his own.
The Patriots had a chance to tie the game on the final drive, but after a successful fourth-down deep strike and a touchdown pass, they failed to the two-point conversion. Bill Belichick was not happy:
Bill Belichick, gracious in defeat. pic.twitter.com/9IP5rAAIH6— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 24, 2016
When it came to championship weekend, one game definitely delivered. The other? Not so much. The Panthers won 49–15, beating the Cardinals in all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. On offense, two different Panthers — Greg Olsen and Corey Brown — had 100 yards receiving, while Cam Newton mixed in two rushing touchdowns for good measure.
Meanwhile, Carson Palmer threw four interceptions, including a back-breaker just before halftime. Arizona's Patrick Peterson, who had earlier fumbled a punt, redeemed himself by picking off Cam Newton with just over a minute left in the second quarter and running it back 72 yards. But Palmer threw an interception on the very next play. They never recovered.
Despite reportedly having a five-year offer on the table from the Mets' rival Nationals, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes followed his heart and returned to the team he lead to the World Series last season. In addition to his power, the Mets are getting back the best outfield arm in baseball:
Rickie Fowler reminded everyone that he's still one of the best golfers in the world yesterday when he won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in exciting fashion. After Saturday, Fowler was in a five-way tie that included Rory McIlroy. But the 27-year-old made a series of amazing shots down the stretch, including this eagle out of a bunker:
"Can you believe it?!" https://t.co/leoL3dYDh3— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 24, 2016
(Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)