AFC divisional playoffs: Manning, Broncos beat Chargers 24-17
Denver to host New England next week in AFC championship game
After gaining just 18 yards on the ground against San Diego last month, the Broncos ran for 133 yards, including 82 by Moreno, whose 3-yard TD run put them ahead 24-7 with 8:12 left.
After that, things got interesting.
Keenan Allen hauled in a 49-yard catch with Quentin Jammer in coverage on fourth-and-5 from the San Diego 25 with seven minutes left. That led to his second TD — both from 16 yards — that pulled the Chargers to 24-14 with 5:43 left.
"We got those two touchdowns in the second half, but it's unfortunate we didn't get started earlier," said Allen, who finished with 142 yards on six catches.
Decker then made his third big blunder of the day, flubbing the onside kick, which San Diego recovered, leading to Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal with 3:53 remaining that pulled the Chargers (10-8) to within a touchdown.
Novak followed with a pooch kick, and Trindon Holliday secured the ball at the Denver 27 with 3:51 left.
Manning's third-down brilliance kept the Chargers' offense on the sideline.
"Third-and-17, I was thinking we were definitely going to get the ball back," Allen said. "And we were feeling good on the offensive side, having the momentum. It was just unfortunate we didn't get it."
Notes: In the first half, Decker tripped at the San Diego 30-yard line after a 47-yard punt return. "I guess it was that invisible fence that got me." said Decker, who then let Manning's pass in the end zone bounce off his chest and into the arms of linebacker Donald Butler — Manning's first red zone interception of the season. ... Welker wore an oversized safety helmet. ... Manti Te'o and Marcus Gilchrist sustained concussions. ... Denver did not punt for the first time in its playoff history and just the eighth time in NFL postseason history — three of those came with Manning under center.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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