Quinton Carter, David Bruton exit hurt
Dawkins missed Saturday night's 45-10 season-ending loss with a neck injury. Rookie Quinton Carter, the other starter, didn't return after hurting his neck in the first half, and David Bruton left the game with a concussion in the third. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley also left in the third quarter with a concussion.
Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who led the team with 61 yards receiving in the game, left in the fourth quarter with a head injury.
Carter, a rookie from Oklahoma, intercepted a pass by Tom Brady on New England's third series and returned it 17 yards to the Patriots 24-yard line with two minutes left in the first quarter. Four plays later, Willis McGahee scored on a 5-yard run that cut the Patriots lead to 14-7.
But the beat-up Denver defense couldn't stop Brady, who tied an NFL postseason record with six touchdown passes as the Patriots advanced to the AFC title game where they will host either the Baltimore Ravens or Houston Texans.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- NFL to release schedule Wednesday night
- Bills' Marrone had cancerous mole removed
- Men linked by Tillman tragedy make contact
- Former Jaguars LB Allen had stroke in game
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2011 NFL PLAYOFFS
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PICKS
HOT READ: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz
RAVENS AT PATRIOTS, Sun., 3 p.m. ET
GIANTS AT 49ERS, Sun., 6:30 p.m. ET
MORE NFL COVERAGE
- Fathead Tom Brady In Your Face Mural Wall Graphic