Sports, December 31st

BRONCOS THRASH CHIEFS, EARN AFC’S TOP SEED

DENVER (AP) – Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns Sunday to lift Denver to a 38-3 win over Kansas City that sealed the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs for the Broncos. Manning finished the season with 4,659 yards, only 41 short of his career high. He finished with 37 touchdown passes, and none will be more memorable than the last two – circus catches by Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas that turned the game into a blowout. Denver (13-3) won its 11th straight and leaped past Houston for the top seed after the Texans lost to Indianapolis 28-16 earlier in the day. The Chiefs gained only 119 yards all day.

DENVER (AP) – Peyton Manning’s third touchdown throw Sunday was the 73rd time he’s accomplished the feat in an NFL game, passing Brett Favre (farv) for most in a career. Demaryius Thomas hauled in a one-handed 13-yard touchdown toss that gave Denver a 28-3 lead over Kansas City early in the third quarter Sunday. Manning threw two TD passes to Eric Decker in the first half. Manning also set franchise records for most yards passing and most completions in a season, breaking marks set by Jay Cutler in 2008. Decker’s two scores – one of them also one-handed – gave him 21 over the last two seasons, the most in a two-year span in Broncos history. Coming into the game, he shared the record of 19 with Rod Smith (2000-01) and Anthony Miller (1994-95).

BRONCOS PLAYOFF TICKETS

DENVER (AP) – The Denver Broncos are trying to give fans in Colorado and surrounding states first crack at playoff tickets. The tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster. The team says tickets will only be available to people with billing addresses in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and western Kansas. Tickets won’t be for sale at the Broncos’ ticket office until Wednesday, if there are any left. Tickets range from $60 to $200 for reserved seats and $175 to $425 for club seats. The Broncos will host an AFC Divisional playoff game on either Jan. 12 or 13.

BLACK MONDAY FOR NFL COACHES

Less than 24 hours after the regular season ended, NFL firings began at a furious pace. In a span of about 90 minutes before lunch Monday, coaches Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur, Romeo Crennel and Chan Gailey were let go by their teams after losing seasons. None of the moves were surprising, and more are expected. The Jets decided to keep their coach, Rex Ryan, but fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The Browns made it a clean sweep, dismissing GM Tom Heckert along with Shurmur. Reid was the longest tenured of the group, let go after 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Gailey was dumped after three seasons with the Bills, Shurmur after two in Cleveland and Crennel was coach of the Chiefs for one full season. Jacksonville fired GM Gene Smith.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Robert Griffin III isn’t the only spectacular rookie for the Washington Redskins. Rookie running back Alfred Morris carried 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the Redskins’ 28-18 victory over Dallas last night that gave the Redskins their first NFC East title since 1999.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired general manager Gene Smith after four disappointing seasons, including the worst year in franchise history. Owner Shad Khan made the announcement today. Coach Mike Mularkey could be next. Khan is waiting to decide Mularkey’s fate until he hires a new general manager, which could happen this week.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Today’s Music City Bowl in Nashville pits Vanderbilt against North Carolina State. The 8-4 Commodores are trying for their first nine-victory season since 1915 and take a six-game winning streak into today’s game.

EL PASO, Texas (AP) – The Sun Bowl pits 7-5 Southern California against a 6-7 Georgia Tech club that is bowl eligible for the 16th straight season, the fourth-longest streak in the nation. The Trojans are without All-American QB Matt Barkley, whose out with a shoulder injury, and will go with freshman Max Wittek at quarterback.

ATLANTA (AP) – A pair of 10-2 clubs will tangle in this evening’s Chick-fil-A Bowl when LSU takes on Clemson. The Tigers are trying to reach 11 victories for just the fourth time in school history while LSU is hoping to close the season with four straight wins following the Tigers’ 21-17 loss to Alabama on Nov. 3.

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