Manning comes off bench to guide Broncos to top seed in AFC

Sun Jan 3, 2016 10:44pm EST
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(The Sports Xchange) - Quarterback Peyton Manning helped turn coach Gary Kubiak's gut feeling into a winning move.

Cast in the unfamiliar role of backup, Manning came off the bench to relieve an ineffective Brock Osweiler and led four second-half scoring drives, and the Denver Broncos rallied to beat to the San Diego Chargers 27-20 on Sunday.

The victory clinched the AFC West title and the conference's No. 1 playoff seed.

"It's been a different year certainly, a different week, different approach," Manning said.

"I think when I was in there, we ran the ball better. We held on to the ball, caught the ball better. That's just kind of how it worked out."

Relying more on his leadership and steadying influence than his passing arm in his first action in seven weeks, Manning drove the Broncos (12-4) to a pair of field goals by kicker Brandon McManus and on marches that ended in touchdown runs by C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.

"He told us to go out and put some points on the board and that's what we did," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said of Manning. "He told everyone to calm down. He came in and was the leader that he is."

The Broncos, defense stopped San Diego's final possession on downs, and Manning took a knee to run out the final few seconds.

"Maybe we played really good considering all the elements, but we gave them all they wanted," San Diego quarterback quarterback Philip Rivers said.   Continued...

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) drops back to pass the football in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports