DENVER – Peyton Manning figured one one-handed catch deserved another.
So, up the ladder he went – throwing the ball high in the back of the end zone to Demaryius Thomas.
Thomas leaped and brought it down with his right hand, then got both feet down inside the line for a touchdown. With that, he joined Eric Decker in Denvers one-handed-touchdown club Sunday and gave the Broncos some otherworldly highlights to go with their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after a 38-3 runaway win over the 2-14 Kansas City Chiefs.
They claim they can do that all the time, said cornerback Champ Bailey, who got to watch the replays of both catches about a half-dozen times on the scoreboard. They say they practice that. I dont see it. But as long as they do it on Sunday, Im all for it. Those are some great, hard-working boys and I expect nothing less.
Manning, in search of his fifth MVP award and, yes, a second Super Bowl title, finished 23 for 29 for 304 yards, three scores and a 144.8 passer rating. One of his main competitors for the award, Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, ran for 199 yards in a 37-34 win over Green Bay that secured a playoff berth.
That one went down to the wire. Manning was out of his game by the fourth quarter.
This was the second straight Sunday he used a gray-and-orange glove to prepare for the cold, playoff weather he could face at home the next two games.
I threw it OK today, I guess, said Manning, who finished the season with 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 passer rating, all second best in his 15-year career.
Thanks to Houstons 28-16 loss to Indianapolis before the Broncos kicked off, Denver (13-3) will be the top seed for the sixth time. The Broncos made the Super Bowl four of the previous five times.
Manning posted his 73rd three-touchdown game, surpassing the record held by Brett Favre. Manning closed the regular season only 41 yards short of his career high.
Its been a gratifying regular season, Manning said. I will admit that. It is certainly more than I expected. Im grateful and humble for it.