National Football League

              === Broncos handle Buccaneers to clinch AFC West ===
 Denver,  CO  (Sports Network) - Peyton  Manning had three touchdown passes and
 the  Denver Broncos clinched  the AFC West with a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay
 Manning went 27-for-38 with 242 yards and an interception as the Broncos (9-3)
 won  their  seventh straight game  and clinched  their division for the second
 straight year and 12th time in franchise history. Also, Manning moved past Dan
 Marino  for  second place all-time  for completions and  now has 4,986 for his
 "The  main goal coming  into today was to get the win," said Manning. "We knew
 we were facing a hot team today and that we were going to have our hands full.
 That  being said, it  feels really good to win the division and we'll continue
 to improve as we head to the playoffs."
 Demaryius  Thomas totaled eight catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while
 Knowshon Moreno had 69 yards on 20 carries and added four catches for 14 yards
 in the win.
 "At  the end of the day everyone is rooting for that world championship," said
 Broncos  head coach John  Fox. "We still have a quarter of the football season
 left.  It's a great accomplishment, but let's see what happens the rest of the
 Josh   Freeman   went  18-for-39  with   242  yards,  two  touchdowns  and  an
 interception, with Mike Williams and Dallas Clark each catching a scoring pass
 in the loss for the Buccaneers (6-6), who have dropped their past two games.
 The loss by Tampa Bay allowed Atlanta to clinch the NFC South. The Falcons had
 defeated the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
 "We're  still looking at it as a one-game season and there's a lot of football
 to be played," Williams said about his team's playoff chances. "We're going to
 try and do our part to get a couple wins and see what happens after that."
 The  Broncos trailed  by three points in  the third quarter, but found the end
 zone on three straight drives during the frame to take the lead.
 After  an  exchange of  punts to start  the quarter, Denver  got the ball near
 midfield  and needed just  four plays to get into the end zone. A 16-yard pass
 interference  call on Tampa was followed by an 8-yard catch in the back of the
 end zone by Thomas for a 14-10 lead with 9:21 to play in the period.
 Following  another  short possession from  the Bucs,  the Broncos got the ball
 back  near midfield  once more. Manning needed  just seven plays to get in the
 end  zone  and again went  to Thomas, who  came up with  a 10-yard score for a
 21-10 advantage with 4:39 to play in the third.
 It  didn't take long  for Denver for to score again, and this time its defense
 got  in  on the action. Von  Miller made a leaping  grab of a Freeman pass and
 scampered  down  the left sideline  for a 26-yard score  and a 28-10 lead with
 3:56  to play  in the  third quarter.  It was  the first  interception of  his
 With a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, Tampa finally stopped
 Denver's  momentum  with a 50-yard  field goal by Connor  Barth that made it a
 28-13 game on the first play of the final period.
 The  Broncos, though,  killed that momentum with a 14-play, 68-yard drive that
 ate  up over seven minutes of the clock and was capped by a 31-yard field goal
 from Matt Prater for a 31-13 lead with 7:36 to play.
 A  55-yard field goal  from Barth with 3:23 to play got it back to a two-score
 game  and following a  three-and-out from the Broncos, the Bucs got in the end
 zone   when   Freeman  found  Williams  in   the  end  zone  from  five  yards
 out to bring Tampa Bay within 31-23 with 2:33 to play.
 Denver,  though, recovered the onsides kick and was able to get the first down
 to kill off the rest of the clock.
 Following  a  quick three-and-out from Tampa  Bay on the opening possession of
 the game, Denver got the ball back at its own 35 and went to work.
 Two  short  completions and an illegal  contact penalty on Tampa Bay moved the
 ball  across  midfield, and Manning followed  with two more completions to get
 the  ball down to the  25. A Moreno run of 12 yards later on moved the ball to
 the  1-yard line and  the next play saw Manning hook up with Mitch Unrein, who
 normally  plays at defensive tackle, for a score and a 7-0 lead with 8:47 left
 in the first quarter.
 Tampa  Bay followed  with a nine-play, 61-yard  drive that saw Barth hit a 31-
 yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game. The big play of the drive was a 26-yard
 catch by Doug Martin that got the ball across midfield.
 After  forcing  a three-and-out from the  Broncos, the Buccaneers got the ball
 back  at their own 30 and the second play saw Freeman and Williams hook up for
 a  40-yard gain down  to the Denver 23. Three plays later, Freeman found Clark
 in  the end  zone on an 11-yard score  and a 10-7 lead with 14 seconds left in
 the first quarter.
 Denver  crossed midfield on each of its next two touches, but had to punt both
 times  and  the game went  into halftime with  Tampa Bay holding a three-point
                                   Game Notes
 Brett Favre is the all-time lead for completions with 6,300 ... It's the first
 seven-game  winning  streak for Denver  since the  team opened the 1998 season
 with  13  straight wins ... Tampa  Bay hosts Philadelphia next week ... Denver
 takes its winning streak to Oakland, where it will play on Thursday ... Denver
 has  won  six of the  eight meetings with Tampa  Bay, including the past three
 12/03 00:33:59 ET

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