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Sunday, January 19, 2014
Welcome to Sports Authority Field

By Mike Reiss

DENVER -- Welcome to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where the New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game (3 p.m. ET):

Weather conditions: It is a gorgeous day here in the Rockies. Although there is a sign that asks those to stay off the grass because of frost, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-high 50s by kickoff. It is sunny, winds are light and there is no precipitation expected (Weather.com link). From this viewpoint, the forecast is an advantage for the Broncos.

A feel for Sports Authority Field: This is a completely enclosed stadium, which helps keep the noise in. There are three levels of seating, with all seats blue except for the first four rows from the field, which are orange. In one end zone, the seats don’t extend to a third level, leaving room for a mammoth video board that extends almost the width of the end zone. The Broncos’ rich history if evidenced by some of the great players in their history having names listed below the third level of seats – Karl Mecklenburg (1983-94), Tom Jackson (1973-86), John Elway (1983-98) and Floyd Little (1967-75) among them.

Six more inactives to declare: The Patriots have already ruled rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais (illness) out for today’s game, and he probably would have been inactive regardless. That means six more players must be declared inactive, and those decisions are finalized and announced 90 minutes before kickoff.

Corrente gets the call: Veteran referee Tony Corrente has been assigned today’s game. He worked two Patriots games this season – Oct. 13 vs. the Saints and Dec. 15 at the Dolphins. He is working with an all-star crew, meaning these aren’t the officials he has been with all season. Of the other six officials, only back judge Greg Wilson has been on Corrente’s crew this season.

Broadcast information: Today’s game will be broadcast on CBS, with Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Phil Simms (analysis) on the call. This is the fifth Patriots game of the season for the Nantz-Simms combination.