2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos roll into playoffs with rout of Chiefs

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-12-31 04:12

DENVER (AP) - The fans behind the south end zone who earlier had a great view of Peyton Manning's heart-skipping effort to tackle cornerback Brandon Flowers held up their index fingers as the final seconds ticked away on Denver's 38-3 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.

``We're No. 1!''

It was an appropriate salute for two franchises whose fortunes couldn't have been more different this year.

With their biggest win ever over their AFC West rival, the Broncos (13-3) on Sunday secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the first time since John Elway was leading touchdown drives instead of cheers from his luxury suite.

The Chiefs (2-14), well, they own the top pick in the NFL draft now.

Manning guided Denver to its 11th straight win and made sure the only trip the Broncos will have to make on their road to a championship would be to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. They'll open the playoffs at home the weekend of Jan. 12 against Baltimore, Cincinnati or Manning's old team, the Colts.

``I threw it OK today, I guess,'' said the ever-modest Manning, who completed 23 of 29 passes for 304 yards and a 144.8 passer rating.

He was within 41 yards of his career high when he donned a cap for the fourth quarter, yet another NFL record in his pocket - this marked his 73rd three-touchdown game, surpassing the record held by Brett Favre.

Before he threw any of them, though, Manning had to race downfield to try to deny Flowers a touchdown after the Chiefs cornerback scooped up rookie Ronnie Hillman's fumble at the Kansas City 24 in the first quarter.

He didn't get there, but he did slow him down enough to make Flowers cut back, and tight end Joel Dreessen dragged him down at the 12. After that, the Chiefs settled for a field goal and then watched the Broncos score the next 31 points.

``Me, I'm telling him to get out of the way,'' Champ Bailey said, echoing the sentiments of Broncos fans everywhere. ``But the competitive nature of him is telling him to make the tackle. He stuck his neck out there.''

His four-time surgically-repaired neck.

``I didn't get the tackle?'' Manning deadpanned. ``Dreessen hit him? That's perfect. . I knew if I at least made them cut back, I thought somebody would be in there. I thought I got a hand on him though. Maybe a half? Can I get a half? Can we check with that? I thought I got a piece of him.''

He'll have to be satisfied with a season for the ages - at 36, coming off a year's forced sabbatical, Manning put up numbers that were better than the average of the four years he won MVP honors. He finished the season with 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 passer rating, all second-best of his 15-year career, putting him in line for a fifth MVP award.

``What he has done, to be coming off that type of rehab, that type of injury, at his position, in a new city, with a new team, I think it's unprecedented,'' coach John Fox said after his 100th win. ``Historical would be the word I'd use.''

Asked if he was a year ahead of where he thought he'd be in his comeback, Manning said, ``I guess you could say that. I just didn't know. I still think there are still things we can improve on. I still think there still are things that just take time, that you just can't get done in a year.''

Manning threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker and one to Demaryius Thomas. Each had a one-handed TD grab that gave the Broncos some otherworldly highlights to go with their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

This was the second straight Sunday Manning used a grey-and-orange glove to prepare for the cold, playoff weather he could face at home the next two games.

``You know, for wearing it for the first time in my entire football career, I guess you could say it's been OK the past two weeks,'' Manning said.

Thanks to Houston's 28-16 loss to Indianapolis before the Broncos kicked off, Denver will be the top seed for the sixth time. The Broncos made the Super Bowl four of the previous five times.

Though the Chiefs gave the Broncos as tough a tussle as anyone during their 11-game winning streak - in a 17-9 loss last month - this wasn't expected to be much of a game, and it wasn't.

``It's been a gratifying regular season,'' Manning said. ``I will admit that. It is certainly more than I expected.''

On the other end of the spectrum are the Chiefs, who finished with 119 yards of offense a week after running for 352 yards in what might have been coach Romeo Crennel's farewell.

Injuries and ineffective play derailed a team predicted to finish near the top of the AFC West before the season. They also faced adversity off the field as well, when Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend before committing suicide at the team's practice facility on Dec. 1.

``I think the season finally caught up to these guys and I think it showed on the field,'' Crennel said.

NOTES: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles ran for 53 yards to finish with 1,509. ... The Broncos swept six games in the division for the first time since 1998 - the last time they won the Super Bowl. ... Broncos S Rahim Moore got his first career sack and Miller had one to extend his team single season record to 18 1/2. ... Hillman wasn't seen against after his fumble. Lance Ball replaced him as Knowshon Moreno's backup and led the team with 66 yards on 15 carries. ... Broncos QB Brock Osweiler threw his first NFL passes and finished 2 for 4 for 12 yards. ``I'm not here just to hand off,'' he said.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is out for Week 13 Thursday, Nov. 27. His ankle isn't responding well enough, but the hope is to return for Week 14.

R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is highly unlikely to return to the team next season, sources within the organization said. Head coach Jay Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder [ More ]

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III needs more seasoning, and he'll likely do it from the bench for the rest of this season, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions this year, but all of them haven't been game-changing turnovers. In Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez thrived on [ More ]

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