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Broncos go big again

Published December 8, 2013 9:39 pm

NFL • Denver rolls up 51 points and officially clinches playoff berth.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Denver • Peyton Manning and Matt Prater were more about big numbers than the little one Sunday.

As in, an NFL-record 64-yard field goal to go along with 39 completions, 397 yards passing and, of course, 51 points.

That the temperature was only 18 degrees at kickoff and only 14 when Prater kicked his way to one of the most iconic records in the game felt more annoying than anything. Same for the opponent — the Tennessee Titans, who fought gamely for a half before falling 51-28 on Sunday to the Broncos, who clinched a playoff berth.

As for all those doubts about Manning's abilities in the cold: "I won't try to answer it because I didn't give it any validation in the first place," said the quarterback, who is now 4-7 in games where the temperature is 32 or below at kickoff.

The cold certainly didn't bother Prater, who lashed his 64-yarder through the icy air on the last play of the first half. Yes, it was at altitude in Denver, same as two of the four 63-yarders from years past.

"But I think the 10-degree weather takes out the altitude," Prater said.

Manning's 39 completions set a team record. His 59 attempts matched a franchise high. His seven games this year with at least four touchdowns are the most in NFL history. He's now in the playoffs for the 13th time, which breaks a record for a quarterback that he shared with Brett Favre. Manning led the Broncos (11-2) past the 50-point mark for the third time this year, the first time a team has done that since the NFL merger in 1970.

The Broncos ran a whopping 91 plays on offense, giving them plenty of chances to eat away at a 21-10 second-quarter deficit.

Despite the gaudy numbers, Manning and Prater were about the only Broncos clicking on all cylinders on the day coach John Fox rejoined the team and coached from the sideline after missing four games because of heart surgery.