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Broncos beat Buccaneers, clinch AFC West

Broncos' Manning passes under pressure against the Buccaneers during their NFL football game in Denver, Colorado Reuters

For the second straight year, the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West. But this year feels a whole lot different.

In 2011, the Broncos won their division via Tebowmania, with Tim Tebow pulling out a string of surprising comebacks and Denver squeaking into the playoffs with an 8-8 record. In 2012, the Broncos have already clinched their division by defeating the Buccaneers on Sunday, improving their record to 9-3 on the season.

The biggest difference, of course, is that Peyton Manning is a huge upgrade over Tebow. Last year the Broncos were winning games by scores like 13-10 and 16-13, with Tebow often completing 10 or fewer passes a game. This year, the Broncos are winning by big margins, with Manning putting up MVP numbers.

On Sunday the score was 31-23, and Manning went 27-for-38 for 242 yards, with three touchdown passes. Manning’s numbers are every bit as good as they were in his four MVP seasons with the Colts, and these Broncos are as good as any of Manning’s teams in Indianapolis.

That’s true in large part because of a defense led by Von Miller, a dominant pass rusher who can also drop into coverage, as he showed when he picked off a Josh Freeman pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown, a score that pretty much sealed the Broncos’ win in the third quarter. The Broncos’ defense had an excellent game, shutting down not just Freeman but also the Bucs’ excellent rookie running back Doug Martin, who was never able to get anything going all day.

The 6-6 Buccaneers still have slim hopes of making the playoffs as an NFC wild card. But the Broncos already know they’ll be playing into January. And at the rate they’re going, they may be playing into February.

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35 Responses to “Broncos beat Buccaneers, clinch AFC West”
  1. gg206 says: Dec 2, 2012 7:22 PM

    The way the NFC is, the Bucs have much better than a “Slim” chance at the playoffs; but so does 5 to 6 other teams also..but most bucs fans expected them to lose this game against a AFC team so it’s not that bad..

  2. atwatercrushesokoye says: Dec 2, 2012 7:22 PM

    Thank you John Elway!

  3. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Dec 2, 2012 7:24 PM

    You are welcome!

  4. 2difshoe says: Dec 2, 2012 7:27 PM

    Peyton Manning…. when you’re good you’re good.

    The guy just wins.

    Bears fan

  5. nolaisadump says: Dec 2, 2012 7:29 PM

    Thank you Denver
    Much love
    Atlanta falcons

  6. caseyanthonymunoz says: Dec 2, 2012 7:36 PM

    Peyton wins in the regular season but can’t get it done when it matters. 9-10. Truth hurts.

  7. brutusmandingo says: Dec 2, 2012 7:39 PM

    Yea if the Bucs had all their players healthy and weren’t playing a rookie corner they would’ve beaten the Broncos and if Josh didn’t throw that pick 6 smh but overall and fearless effort fought to the end

  8. pftcensorssuck says: Dec 2, 2012 7:40 PM

    So, Mr. Irsay, you say Peyton Manning is all washed up????

  9. ilovefootball2525 says: Dec 2, 2012 7:48 PM

    Peyton > Tebow

  10. egomaniac247 says: Dec 2, 2012 7:48 PM

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Irsay is happy with his decision too.

  11. seabronco says: Dec 2, 2012 7:51 PM

    @brutusmandingdong shoulda woulda coulda. If the bucs didn’t believe in that cb then maybe they wouldn’t have traded talib? Many games this year have come down to just a few plays, it’s about who takes care of business and comes out on top.
    With that being said, I think Tampa is a good team and they will get better in the coming years, just need to strengthen the D this offseason. Every Tampa game I have watched was a high scoring shoot out.

  12. rs102 says: Dec 2, 2012 7:53 PM

    Freeman passed for 242 yards (same as Manning) and 2 TDs. That equals being shut down? Congrats Broncos on clinching the AFC West.

  13. edithpiaf51 says: Dec 2, 2012 7:54 PM

    I have to admit Peyton Manning has made a difference for the Broncos. my fear is if he will perform as well in the playoffs. He has brought consistenty to the franchise. I still think it was not nice what he said about not wanting Tebow as a backup, and I think the Broncos should have kept Tebow as a backup. However, again Peyton has made a huge difference, resulting in a clinching of the AFC West division.

  14. nolaisadump says: Dec 2, 2012 8:04 PM

    That win by Denver and the Atlanta defeat of the Aints clinched the nfc south for the falcons. Now we need to win out and get #1 seed, and forget all the comments about losing in the playoffs. That is history, this is a new year, new team and they are going to win. Go ahead and take your jabs, bottom line is 11-1.
    What’s your team record, has your team been to the playoffs 3 out of 4 years?

  15. atwatercrushesokoye says: Dec 2, 2012 8:05 PM

    rs102: the difference is Manning put his yards up in the third quarter, Freeman piled his up in garbage time when the Broncos were playing prevent. Now I take nothing away from Freeman overall, I think he’s a great young QB, but he struggled today, especially in the first 24 minutes of the second half.

  16. horsemeat47 says: Dec 2, 2012 8:17 PM

    @edith, if you think the Broncos should have kept Tebow as a backup, then you don’t know football.

  17. bucforever says: Dec 2, 2012 8:40 PM

    The Bucs held their own against a Peyton Manning led team that most people were expecting to blow them out of Mile High today! The Bucs found a way to stay in the game and I hope these two teams will meet again next year and Peyton Manning is still the QB. We might see a different outcome.

  18. edithpiaf51 says: Dec 2, 2012 8:41 PM

    there is no reason to be rude and unkind and insulting. I think Peyton is doing great and brought Denver far. I just said Peyton should not have said he did not want Tebow as backup.

  19. tdrundmc says: Dec 2, 2012 8:55 PM

    Indianapolis is the worst 8 win team in NFL history

  20. beauregard says: Dec 2, 2012 8:58 PM

    Edith, the decision to move on without Tebow was made before the season, before we knew what Peyton was going to do. If Peyton has struggled you would of had a QB controversy. I know it seems very silly to say that now, with Peyton the front runner for MVP, but at the time there were a lot of unknowns. Peyton knew of the rabid fan base that Tebow had and didn’t want the distractions.
    In the end Peyton was quite correct.

  21. edithpiaf51 says: Dec 2, 2012 9:03 PM

    I understand and what you said makes perfect sense, but it seemed that Peyton wanted all the attention on him and did not want to share the spotlight.

  22. lanman11 says: Dec 2, 2012 9:16 PM

    Tom Brady is the MVP. He has been the MVP for the last 10 years. It is undeniable. Peyton can have Come Back Player of The Year, but not the MVP. However, the Manning Media Machine will certainly be lobbying hard for MVP, and he always gets the sympathy vote. So, you never know.

  23. brutusmandingo says: Dec 2, 2012 9:18 PM

    Must be a pro Broncos bunch on here. Smh lol

  24. brutusmandingo says: Dec 2, 2012 9:20 PM

    @seabronco Aqib was a cancer and had way too many chances and Leonard Johnson will get better in time and yes the Bucs will be a great team in the years to come to think last year I was looking forward to this game with Tebow as Denves Qb

  25. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Dec 2, 2012 9:27 PM

    Ianman11 get your facts right before you post! Manning has 4 MVP Awards.
    Brady 2.

  26. ch1ggs says: Dec 2, 2012 9:47 PM

    Brady is an amazing player, but he’s also been around better talent than Manning. Just look at the thorough whipping Peyton received when he played those Pats’ teams in 2003 and 2004. Those teams had vicious defenses.

    Plus, Bill Belichick is a better coach than Dungy ever was.

  27. beauregard says: Dec 2, 2012 10:14 PM

    lanman, I would never down talk Brady. He’s a future first ballot HOF and has won Super Bowls.
    But this year Manning is the clear MVP. Mythical sympathy vote withstanding, the Broncos are where they’re at mostly because of Manning. As great as he is, I’m not certain Brady will even finish in the top three in this years MVP.

  28. seabronco says: Dec 2, 2012 10:16 PM

    @brutus idk if you are a Bucs fan or not but if you are you should be pretty happy now. I like how Schiano coaches, going after the ball in the victory formation shows he didn’t want to give up and signing Legrand was a very classy move. I think he will take that team far, just needs to strengthen the D like I said before.

    With all this being said I’m glad my Broncos won haha.

  29. tdshouldbeinthehall says: Dec 2, 2012 10:17 PM

    lanman11 says:
    Dec 2, 2012 9:16 PM
    Tom Brady is the MVP. He has been the MVP for the last 10 years. It is undeniable. Peyton can have Come Back Player of The Year, but not the MVP. However, the Manning Media Machine will certainly be lobbying hard for MVP, and he always gets the sympathy vote. So, you never know.
    ———
    Let’s see, they both missed one season, Brady’s team won 11 games without him Mannings won 2. Nice try bro.

  30. brutusmandingo says: Dec 2, 2012 10:46 PM

    @seabroncos I am a diehard buccaneers fan amongst a family of Giants Redskin and Jets fan and my brother who being from Brooklyn like myself is a Cowboys fan lol I’ve been a true fan of the Bucs Since 1999

  31. beauregard says: Dec 2, 2012 11:24 PM

    Let’s see, they both missed one season, Brady’s team won 11 games without him Mannings won 2.
    Nice try bro.

    Thank you for making my point. The MVP is the player who means the most to their team, and is missed the most when out.
    Consider yourself educated…..bro.

  32. CKL says: Dec 3, 2012 2:05 AM

    I feel for the Denver D. Last year they got no credit due to Tebowmania. This year they get no credit because of peymeaton. Let him have his regular season MVPS. Last time an MVP won a SB was 1999 with Kurt Warner.

    Colts winning only 2 games without PM was more about their inept GM and HC not their starter. Same as with the Pats winning 11 games in 08 was more about their coaching staff than their starter.

    Bucs are a team I enjoy watching along with Cincy, SF and Houston. I think they will be contenders for awhile.

  33. beeroncos says: Dec 3, 2012 5:15 AM

    Never seen a player get an entire stadium to happily shut up amazing and surreal seemed like audio was broken. also, how about that Unrein?

  34. joetoronto says: Dec 3, 2012 6:37 AM

    Stifle yourself, Edith.

  35. malvaren18 says: Dec 3, 2012 12:35 PM

    2012 MVP Manning, sounds good doesn’t?

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