Recap: Broncos 24, Chargers 17
Broncos 24, Chargers 17: Peyton Manning threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns as host Denver held off San Diego to lock up a spot in next week's AFC Championship Game.Knowshon Moreno rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown and Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker had scoring receptions to help the top-seeded Broncos (14-3) avenge a 27-20 home loss to the Chargers on Dec. 12. Manning finished 25-for-36 with one interception to earn a rematch next Sunday against Tom Brady and New England, which beat the visiting Broncos 34-31 in overtime Nov. 24.Philip Rivers threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rookie Keenan Allen to spark a belated rally for sixth-seeded San Diego (10-8), which had its five-game win streak snapped. Rivers wound up with 217 yards on 18-of-27 passing after throwing for only 20 yards in the opening half and Allen had six catches for 142 yards - all coming after intermission. Denver seemingly put the game out of reach when Moreno capped a nine-play, 81-yard march by bulling up the middle for 3 yards to make it 24-7 with 8:12 to play. Rivers brought San Diego back by connecting with Allen on his second 16-yard scoring pass before the Chargers recovered an onside kick, leading to Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 24-17 with 3:51 to play.San Diego never got the ball back as Manning connected with tight end Julius Thomas (six catches, 76 yards) on a pair of third-down completions to squelch the rally and end his personal three-game postseason losing skid. The Broncos dominated the first half, limiting the Chargers to 45 total yards and taking a 14-0 lead on short TD passes by Manning to Demaryius Thomas and Welker. Matt Prater booted a 45-yard field goal on Denver's first possession of the second half to make it 17-0, but missed a 47-yard attempt with 1:07 left in the third to keep San Diego within striking distance. Rivers finally put together a sustained drive and found Allen down the right side for a 16-yard scoring strike to cut the deficit to 17-7 with 12:59 to play and begin the comeback.GAME NOTEBOOK: Manning's two scoring passes gave him 34 in the postseason, moving him past Dan Marino for the fourth most in league history, and he also vaulted past Joe Montana and Brett Favre for the second-most playoff passing yards with 5,909, trailing only New England's Tom Brady (6,147). ... Chargers RB Ryan Mathews, who did not practice all week due to an ankle injury, played only the first half and was limited to 26 yards on five carries while rookie LB Manti Te'o (concussion) was also knocked out of the game in the opening half. ... Demaryius Thomas had eight receptions for 54 yards while Welker had six catches for 38 yards in his first game since suffering his second concussion of the season against Tennessee on Dec. 8.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.