The Denver Broncos
survived a fourth-quarter fightback by the San Diego Chargers
to claim a 24-17 win on Sunday and advance to the AFC Championship game for the first time in eight years.
The victory for Peyton Manning's Broncos sets up a tantalizing showdown next Sunday when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots visit the Mile High city with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
Manning, who passed for a record 55 touchdowns during a
record-smashing regular season, was more clinical than spectacular on a
blustery, cool day in Colorado.
He completed 25 passes for a modest 230 yards, including two short touchdown strikes to Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas in the first half.
The red-hot Chargers arrived in Denver
riding the momentum from a five-game winning streak and had looked
poised to keep their season alive with a fourth quarter rally that cut Denver's 17-point advantage to seven with about six minutes to play.