Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

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Peyton Manning engineered a late touchdown drive to lead the Denver Broncos past the Pittsburgh Steelers and into a date with rival Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

0:33 | January 17, 2016 | Denver Broncos, Football, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Game Information
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Denver, Colorado
Attendance: 76,956

DENVER (AP) Peyton Manning gets to face his biggest nemesis for one more shot at glory.

Get ready for Brady-Manning XVII.

The NFL's only five-time MVP earned one more and possibly final game against his rival by leading the Denver Broncos to a come-from-behind 23-16 win over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on a blustery Sunday.

That set up an AFC championship game next weekend in Denver against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

What a fitting feature to an 18th season for Manning that's been equal parts trying and triumphant, filled with injuries and insults, rehab and redemption.

And yet another rescue.

Manning and Brady have squared off 16 times before, a full season's worth of matchups between the two quarterbacks whose careers are so intertwined that a conversation about one almost has to include the other - like Bird vs. Magic or Ali vs. Frazier.

"It'll be the Broncos vs. the Patriots," Manning said of the AFC's top two seeds, both 13-4. "We'll enjoy this one tonight. I think you knew that answer was coming. To kind of quote Bill Belichick, we'll be on to New England. But I'll be talking about them on Wednesday."

Football fans certainly won't wait that long.

Brady has won 11 of the 16 meetings against Manning, but they're 2-2 in the playoffs, including Denver's 26-16 win in the conference championship game two years ago.

The 17th chapter was slated for November before Manning went out with a foot injury that pushed longtime backup Brock Osweiler into the starting - and starring - role.

Osweiler led the Broncos back from a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit against New England on Nov. 29 in a game Denver won 30-24 in overtime. Manning had just gotten out of his cast and watched that game from the locker room after shaking Brady's hand in pregame warmups.

He returned to action in the season finale, his cameo propelling the Broncos past San Diego and into the AFC's No. 1 seed that ensures Brady & Co. will have to play at altitude in their fifth consecutive trip to the conference championship game.

Just before kickoff Sunday, a strong wind blew over the Rocky Mountains, wreaking havoc on passes and kicks alike, although Brandon McManus tied an NFL playoff record by converting all five of his field-goal attempts and Chris Boswell made all three of his.

Manning's teammates dropped seven passes but also came through in crunch time. Denver is 10-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer, and Manning said being battle-tested helped them on this blustery night

With Denver down 13-12 with less than 10 minutes left, cornerback Bradley Roby, burned time and again, punched the ball from Fitzgerald Toussaint's arms and teammate DeMarcus Ware recovered at the Denver 35-yard line.

"Perfect timing," Roby said.

Toussaint, who scored his first career TD in the first half, took it hard and blamed himself.

"This is not all on him by any means," Roethlisberger said. "It's on all of us."

After Toussaint's fumble, Manning went to work, driving Denver to its only touchdown, a 1-yard run by C.J. Anderson, followed by Demaryius Thomas' catch on the 2-pointer that put Denver ahead 20-13 with three minutes left.

That was Manning's 55th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, extending one of the dozen NFL records he owns.

Ware's sack ended Pittsburgh's next drive and McManus kicked his fifth field goal, joking it was such a tricky crosswind that he just kept aiming "at the guy holding the beer in the top left corner."

Boswell made a 47-yarder with 19 seconds left, but Anderson recovered the onside kick.

Manning credited Denver's NFL-best defense for thwarting a team that piled up 34 points on them last month and an offense that stayed patient.

"It was tough all night," Manning said. "They're a good defense, playing really well for the past number of weeks. So real credit to them. We had some good field position early and we had to settle for field goals. I give them credit for that. Field goals are better than no points, but we knew eventually that we needed to get a touchdown drive."

They got that chance thanks to Roby.

"Roby got that left hand to knock the ball out and D-Ware was the man on the spot," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "And the offense ran it down their throat. Tough team. We don't quit until it is zero-zero-zero."

"We're relentless," agreed Anderson. "We fight. We grind. We just keep fighting."

Just like the Steelers.

Roethlisberger led an offense that had several big moments - their top eight plays netted 275 yards and their other 51 snaps resulted in just 118 yards.

"You're right, they're a big-play football team," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "But the good news is that we settled down defensively and found a way to sit there and hold them to 16 points."

Roethlisberger completed 24 of 37 passes for 339 yards despite playing with a sore right shoulder and missing his top receiver - Antonio Brown (concussion) and rusher - DeAngelo Williams (foot). Martavis Bryant had nine catches for 154 yards.

Manning completed 21 of 37 passes for 222 yards.

Two months shy of 40, Manning has said this could very well be his final hurrah, and he's 60 minutes from another chance to win his second Super Bowl ring.

Brady - who else? - stands in his way.

Notes: Broncos PR Omar Bolden injured a knee following his 42-yard return that set up Denver's first field goal. ... Steelers LB Arthur Moats left before halftime with an injured chest muscle.

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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1st Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Steelers Broncos
11:21 Brandon McManus 28 yd FG 0 3
03:40 Brandon McManus 41 yd FG 0 6
01:22 Fitzgerald Toussaint 1 yd run (Chris Boswell kick) 7 6

2nd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Steelers Broncos
10:19 Chris Boswell 43 yd FG 10 6
00:00 Brandon McManus 51 yd FG 10 9

3rd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Steelers Broncos
09:32 Chris Boswell 28 yd FG 13 9
02:45 Brandon McManus 41 yd FG 13 12

4th Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Steelers Broncos
03:00 C.J. Anderson 1 yd run (Demaryius Thomas 2pt Pass from Peyton Manning) 13 20
00:53 Brandon McManus 45 yd FG 13 23
00:19 Chris Boswell 47 yd FG 16 23

Team Stats
  Pittsburgh Denver
1st Downs 16 19
Total Yards 396 324
Passing 311 215
Passing Completions/Attempts 24-37 21-37
Yards/Pass 7.8 5.7
Rushing 85 109
Rushing Attempts 19 33
Yards/Rush 4.5 3.3
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Interceptions Thrown 0 0
Possession 28:27 31:33

Pittsburgh Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Ben Roethlisberger 24 37 339 9.2 0 0

Denver Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Peyton Manning 21 37 222 6.0 0 0

Pittsburgh Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Martavis Bryant 2 40 20.0 0 40
Fitzgerald Toussaint 12 39 3.2 1 15
Jordan Todman 5 6 1.2 0 5

Denver Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
C.J. Anderson 15 72 4.8 1 34
Ronnie Hillman 16 38 2.4 0 9
Peyton Manning 2 -1 -0.5 0 0

Pittsburgh Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Martavis Bryant 9 154 17.1 0 52
Darrius Heyward-Bey 2 64 32.0 0 58
Sammie Coates 2 61 30.5 0 37
Markus Wheaton 5 30 6.0 0 13
Jesse James 1 22 22.0 0 22
Heath Miller 1 5 5.0 0 5
Fitzgerald Toussaint 3 2 0.7 0 2
Matt Spaeth 1 1 1.0 0 1

Denver Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Emmanuel Sanders 5 85 17.0 0 34
Demaryius Thomas 4 40 10.0 0 15
Bennie Fowler 2 35 17.5 0 31
Cody Latimer 2 18 9.0 0 12
Virgil Green 2 14 7.0 0 11
C.J. Anderson 2 11 5.5 0 7
Owen Daniels 2 10 5.0 0 6
Jordan Norwood 1 10 10.0 0 10
Ronnie Hillman 0 0 0.0 0
Andre Caldwell 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1

Pittsburgh Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
William Gay 7 1 0 0
James Harrison 6 1 1 7
Will Allen 6 0 0 0
Ryan Shazier 6 1 0 0
Lawrence Timmons 5 1 0 0
Brandon Boykin 4 0 0 0
Jarvis Jones 3 2 0 0
Steve McLendon 3 0 0 0
Bud Dupree 2 1 0 0
Stephon Tuitt 2 2 0 0
Valentino Blake 1 0 0 0
Ross Cockrell 1 0 0 0
Mike Mitchell 1 3 0 0
Terence Garvin 0 0 0 0
Robert Golden 0 1 0 0
Shamarko Thomas 0 0 0 0
Cody Wallace 0 0 0 0

Denver Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
Danny Trevathan 8 1 0 0
Chris Harris Jr. 4 0 0 0
Aqib Talib 4 0 0 0
T.J. Ward 4 0 0 0
Brandon Marshall 3 1 0 0
Bradley Roby 3 0 0 0
Darian Stewart 3 1 0 0
DeMarcus Ware 2 1 1 13
Antonio Smith 2 0 1 7
Von Miller 2 0 0 0
Derek Wolfe 1 3 1 8
Malik Jackson 1 1 0 0
Vance Walker 1 1 0 0
Shaquil Barrett 0 1 0 0
Aaron Brewer 0 0 0 0
Josh Bush 0 0 0 0
Kayvon Webster 0 0 0 0

Pittsburgh Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
No interceptions.

Denver Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
No interceptions.

Pittsburgh Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
No kick return stats.

Denver Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
C.J. Anderson 0.0

Pittsburgh Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Markus Wheaton 4 20 5.0 0 12

Denver Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Omar Bolden 1 42 42.0 0 42

Pittsburgh Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Chris Boswell 3 3 100.0 47

Denver Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Brandon McManus 5 5 100.0 51

Pittsburgh Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Jordan Berry 6 238 52

Denver Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Britton Colquitt 6 282 57