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Denver Broncos set for Peyton Manning-Tom Brady XVII

By The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 18, 2016 at 8:40 AM
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DENVER -- With the Denver Broncos advancing to the AFC Championship Game against New England, another showdown looms between quarterback Peyton Manning and his Patriots counterpart, Tom Brady.

The game in Denver on Jan. 24 will be the 17th meeting between two of the NFL's most accomplished quarterbacks. It is a competition that Brady has dominated, winning 11 times to Manning's five.

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Manning deflected a question on the upcoming rematch against Brady, preferring to savor the Broncos' 23-16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's divisional playof round.

"We'll deal with that on Wednesday," said Manning, who led the Broncos go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. "We'll take a couple hours to enjoy this one tonight."

The Broncos will be playing the Patriots for the second time this season, though Manning was not at the helm for Denver's 30-24 overtime win over New England on Nov. 29. Brock Osweiler, filling in for an injured Manning, led Denver to the win over Brady and the Patriots.

Osweiler started seven games before a healthy Manning reclaimed the job after relieving an ineffective Osweiler in the regular-season finale. The Broncos posted a comeback win over the San Diego Chargers that day, securing the AFC's top playoff seed.

Days after the finale, coach Gary Kubiak announced that Manning would return as the Broncos' starter in what could be his final season.

--Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run in the first half to help put the Steelers in front. He also had the game's only turnover, a fourth-quarter fumble that preceded the Broncos' game-winning drive.

Denver cornerback Bradley Roby punched the ball from Toussaint's grasp, and Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware covered the fumble before Toussaint could find the ball and fall on it himself.

"I feel for all of us," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We wanted to win this game, but I told him, I said we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. This is not all on him by any means. It's on all of us. I'm proud of the way he played."

--Broncos kicker Brandon McManus made five field goals Sunday to tie the NFL postseason record for a single game.

He became the seventh player in league postseason history to make five field goals without a miss even though the wind swirled throughout much of Sunday's game.

McManus made kicks of 28, 41, 51, 41 and 45 yards. The 51-yarder tied for the second-longest in Denver playoff history.

"I think I hit the ball pretty well," McManus said. "I have a strong leg, so I'm not going to ever aim outside the uprights, but with the wind, you might be 1 yard inside each upright. Sometimes, you're kicking with the wind, sometimes you're kicking into it. Certain crosswinds make it difficult sometimes, especially from certain yardage."

--Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant filled in admirably for star receiver Antonio Brown, who missed the game with a concussion sustained in the late stages of Pittsburgh's wild-card win at Cincinnati last week.

Bryant had nine catches for 154 yards, including a long of 52, and also had two runs covering 40 yards.

"We can't use injuries as an excuse," Bryant said. "Everybody stepped up (for the injured Brown). We gave it our all. Things just didn't go our way."

--Manning's longest completion in Sunday's game involved improvisation and the seat of his pants.

Dodging pressure from a safety blitz, Manning went down to the ground in a heap but he sensed that Steelers safety Will Allen didn't touch him while he was on the ground. Manning got up to complete a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

"I don't want to analyze this play too much. I want it to go away," Manning quipped after the game. "I felt that guy closing, so I stepped up, kind of leaned forward and my momentum just kind of took me down, I guess. I didn't think he touched me, and I told Emmanuel to kind of be alert in case I fall down and get back up."

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