FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady's way of dealing with Tebowmania was to silence it with a record-shattering performance.
The Patriots (14-3), winners of nine straight games, will host either Baltimore or Houston next Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl. Saturday night's romp snapped a three-game postseason losing streak, two of those at Gillette Stadium, and lifted the Patriots to the verge of their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons. They've won it three times.
Brady even punted with 2:56 remaining, 48 yards on third down.
And so ended one of the season's most exciting story lines - one that caught the nation's attention and began when Denver was 1-4 and made Tebow a starter. The one-time third-stringer promptly won six in a row and seven of eight, with a string of stunning comebacks, and the Broncos ended up backing into the AFC West title.
Smith ran for a 28-yard TD with 2:11 left and threw another scoring pass to Davis. Coach Jim Harbaugh's NFC West champions (14-3) proved that a hard-hitting, stingy defense can still win in the modern, wide-open NFL by holding off one of league's most dynamic offenses.
Smith was 24 of 42 for 299 yards, with three TD passes and one running. Brees was 40 of 63 for 462 yards and four touchdowns. He threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.