BRONCOS BEAT CHARGERS, WILL HOST PATRIOTS IN AFC TITLE GAME
DENVER (AP) – Peyton Manning welcomed Wes Welker back into the lineup with a touchdown toss and the Denver Broncos narrowly avoided a repeat of their playoff slip from last year, advancing to the AFC championship game with a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Broncos (14-3) controlled the game for 3 1/2 quarters before Philip Rivers capitalized on an injury to cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to stage a comeback reminiscent of Baltimore’s shocking win at Denver exactly a year earlier. This time, however, Manning rescued the Broncos from the brink of another crushing collapse and sent them into the title game for the first time in eight seasons. They’ll host the New England Patriots (13-4) on Sunday. Get ready for Brady vs. Manning once more.
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ENGLEWOOD (AP) – Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is out for the rest of the playoffs after an MRI on Monday revealed a torn ACL in his left knee. Harris was injured in the third quarter of Denver’s 24-17 win over San Diego in the AFC Divisional round Sunday.
ENGLEWOOD (AP) – Peyton Manning’s mind is on New England, not his neck.
When answering a question last week about whether he could still enjoy the playoffs given his previous postseason disappointments, Manning dropped in a phrase that “the light is at the end of the tunnel for me, no question.”Meaning, that at age 37 he certainly has more games and seasons behind him than ahead.Following Denver’s 24-17 win over San Diego on Sunday that sent the Broncos into the AFC championship, Manning was asked whether a medical exam on his surgically repaired neck following the season, which ESPN reported will determine whether he even plays in 2014, was weighing on his mind.
Said Manning: “It’s really not.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Tom Brady is embracing the role of underdog in the AFC championship game. The Broncos are favored to beat the Patriots in Denver on Sunday. Brady says he’s sure no one will pick his team to win. New England’s quarterback made his remarks in his weekly interview on WEEI radio. Several teammates agree with him. Running back LeGarrette Blount says he’s sure most of his teammates feel they’re underdogs. He says that if Brady embraces that role, he also will because Brady is the team leader. And wide receiver Danny Amendola says the Patriots play with a chip on their shoulders. Top-seeded Denver (14-3) advanced with a win over San Diego on Sunday. New England (13-4) beat Indianapolis on Saturday night.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORTS…
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – Johnny Manziel (man-ZEHL’) confirmed that he has signed with LRMR and Maverick Carter, the longtime friend and associate of LeBron James, to handle some of the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner’s off-field projects. Manziel also said Erik Burkhardt will be his agent and Bradley Beckworth and Jeffrey Angelovich are overseeing his business-related matters as he prepares to enter the NFL draft this spring.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – University of Texas regents have unanimously approved new football coach Charlie Strong’s five-year contract worth more than $25 million. Strong spent the last four years at Louisville and will be the first African-American head coach of a Longhorns men’s team. He replaces Mack Brown who resigned after 16 years on the job.
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) – All-American left guard David Yankey says he is forgoing his final year of eligibility at Stanford to enter the NFL draft. Yankey led one of the best offensive lines in the country last season which ranked seventh nationally for fewest tackles for loss allowed and 11th for fewest sacks allowed per game.