Peyton Manning threw for 243 yards and two picturesque long touchdowns to Emmanuel Sanders, who returned from a nagging quad injury in electric fashion.
It’s too bad the preseason means about as much as a political campaign ad. If things were different, the Broncos would be the hottest team in the NFL right now. In consecutive weeks, they’ve dispatched the Seahawks and 49ers, arguably the two toughest teams in the NFC.
Still, it’s okay to keep hope alive. The Broncos are going to be the frontrunners for awhile—at least until the playoffs.
And don’t forget, they’re still short veterans Chris Harris and Von Miller.
Who said politics can’t be fun?
Peyton Manning (120.8 QB rating), Brock Osweiler (125.5), and Zac Dysert (116.9) were impressive and efficient, while the defensive and kick coverage units added four turnovers and eight passes defensed.
Kayvon Webster (ankle) and Emmanuel Sanders (thigh) were held out, while rookie linebacker Lamin Barrow departed with what is being called a severely bruised lower right leg.
Ahh, nothing like a four-hour game to kick off the preseason, amirite?!
Of course, it also wouldn’t be preseason without a new undrafted running back darling. Former Dukie Juwan Thompson racked up 59 yards on six carries, showing as much speed, vision, and toughness as one can show in a matchup of second-team units.
There’s a lot of emotion swirling inside any Broncos fan right now. A loss like this one feels raw, exhausting, and most of all, personal.
After all, we’ve been with this team for 19 games now. We’ve watched them set records, only to fall well short in the biggest game of the year.
But let’s face it, today was never meant to be the Broncos’ day. We need to accept that fact. The first play of the game was a self-induced safety. The first play of the second half was something I can only describe as completely bizarre.
But even without such alien abductions, the Seahawks were the better team.
In a game that called to mind the franchise's first four trips to the big game, the Broncos' record-shattering offense opened with a safety, gave the ball away another four times, and mustered up just one late and meaningless touchdown.
The game also bore a resemblance to the 40-10 result of the teams' preseason meeting, when the Seahawks used turnovers and big plays to romp.
They will face the Seattle Seahawks, who defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in the NFC title game, and like Denver, were picked throughout the year to make it to the Meadowlands.
It's the Broncos' seventh conference championship, and their first in fifteen years.
All week long, the focus was on San Diego’s running game and propensity to dominate time of possession.
The Chargers had held the ball for 38:03 of the teams’ first meeting in Week 10, and for 38:49 in the rematch five weeks later.
The Broncos will host the Patriots next Sunday at 3pm ET in the AFC Championship, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl 48 in New Jersey against either Seattle or San Francisco.
After San Diego's thorough 27-10 victory at Cincinnati, the Chargers will travel to Denver to face the top-seeded Broncos at 4:40pm ET next Sunday.
These Broncos now own the NFL's single-season marks for points, touchdowns, first downs, and extra points, while Peyton Manning extended his touchdown pass record to 55, and owns the single-season yardage record by three feet over Drew Brees.
It's the seventh time (and second straight year) that Denver has claimed HFA.