Broncos get by Steelers; Panthers hold off Seattle
DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning rescued the butter-fingered Broncos with a late touchdown drive and Denver advanced to the AFC championship game with a 23-16 win over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The Broncos (13-4) will host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (13-4) next weekend.
Manning vs. Brady XVII.
With Denver down 13-12 with less than 10 minutes left, cornerback Bradley Roby punched the ball from Fitzgerald Toussaint’s arms and teammate DeMarcus Ware recovered at the Denver 35-yard line.
Then, Manning went to work, driving Denver to its only touchdown.
C.J. Anderson ran it in from the 1, and Demaryius Thomas — who was playing in front of his mother for the first time in his life — caught the 2-point conversion for a 20-13 lead with three minutes remaining.
Ware’s sack ended Pittsburgh’s next drive and Brandon McManus kicked his fifth field goal, tying the NFL playoff record.
Chris Boswell made a 47-yarder with 19 seconds left, but Anderson recovered the onside kick.
Panthers 31, Seahawks 24
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers built a 31-point halftime lead before barely holding off Seattle’s relentless comeback, beating the Seahawks 31-24 on Sunday to advance to the NFC championship game.
Carolina (16-1) will host Arizona (14-3) next week for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Jonathan Stewart, returning from a foot injury, scored two touchdowns after jumpstarting the Panthers with a 59-yard sprint on their first play. Cam Newton threw for a touchdown and fellow All-Pro Luke Kuechly ran in an early interception for a score as Carolina built a 31-0 advantage.
Seattle (11-7), showing its pedigree as two-time NFC champs, climbed back within seven points as Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, two to Jermaine Kearse. An onside kick with 1:11 remaining was covered by All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis — and Charlotte could begin breathing again.