January 4, 2016 / 1:25 AM / in 2 years

Manning returns to help Broncos earn AFC top seed

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass the football in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Quarterback Peyton Manning came off the bench to help the Denver Broncos grab the top playoff seed in the AFC with a victory over San Diego Chargers on the final day of the National Football League regular season on Sunday.

Manning, returning from injury after being out for seven weeks with a foot injury, rallied Denver for 20 second-half points on the way to a 27-20 home win over the Chargers.

The result was huge for the 12-4 Broncos, who would have missed out on a first-round bye had they lost.

Instead, they will have a week off along with the New England Patriots (12-4), who were relegated to second seeds after losing 20-10 to the Miami Dolphins.

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 28-12 to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card when the New York Jets lost to the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets controlled their own fate, with a win guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed his third interception of the game in the final minute to gift the Bills a 22-17 victory.

The result, coupled with Pittsburgh’s win over Cleveland, left both teams with 10-6 records but the Steelers advanced on the tiebreaker.

The Houston Texans (9-7) claimed their third AFC South title in five years with a 30-6 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Texans will host wild card Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) in the first round, while the Steelers will visit the Cincinnati Bengals (12-4).

In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers (15-1) locked up the top seed and home field advantage, while the Arizona Cardinals (13-3) have the other first-round bye.

The Minnesota Vikings wrestled the NFC North title from the Green Bay Packers with a 20-13 victory in the season finale.

As a result, the Vikings (11-5) will host the Seattle Seahawks (10-6) and the Packers (10-6) will visit the Washington Redskins (9-7) in the first round.

Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both/John O'Brien

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