Brock Osweiler faced a 35-minute trial in the bitter cold to decide his team’s playoff fate.
He emerged on the other end of two second-half quarters and overtime on Monday night. And he did so as the quarterback the Denver Broncos must ride if they want to reach Super Bowl 50.
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The Cincinnati Bengals’ defense offered Osweiler a playoff-level puzzle. He solved it in the third quarter, switching to a Peyton Manning-esque no-huddle attack. The Broncos scored their first third-quarter points since Nov. 8.
Osweiler drove the Broncos to take their first lead of the evening in Quarter 4. When the Bengals bounced back (like a playoff opponent would), so did No. 17. He drove his team right down field for a game-and-playoff clinching field goal as time waned.
Brandon McManus’ kick hooked 35 yards left. Again, it was on Osweiler; again, he delivered.
His first completion of overtime was the best of his career. It followed two incompletions, avoided a back-breaking three-and-out, and found Owen Daniels’ hands for a first down.
His ending stat line when McManus nailed the eventual game winner? Osweiler finished 27 of 39 for 299 yards, and, like a good playoff quarterback, no turnovers.
Manning will reportedly meet with Broncos brass to plan out a practice return. But that’s as far as No. 18 should go this winter — his team already has its playoff starter.
The Chargers are in no position to drive stars away
The San Diego Chargers have their sights set on Los Angeles, but they can’t have it both ways.
They’ll need to act and operate like a team in a major American market, not the mom-and-pop operation that’s been handed down from Spanos to Spanos since the mid-80’s.
Football purists would say that’s a warranted move. Weddle reportedly skipped out on the team’s halftime adjustments to watch his daughter dance; there has to be some kind of penalty.
But a team thinking about moving to Tinseltown shouldn’t pursue any punishment that further divests itself from a recognizable name. Los Angeles is about star power. When a bitter Weddle leaves his three-win team and signs elsewhere this offseason, the Bolts will have one less marketable face.
That’s the route the 00’s-era Clippers took. That’s the route the Showtime and Kobe-Shaq Lakers eschewed. There’s a simple recipe for sports success in a fickle city like L.A. and the Chargers aren’t yet following it.
The Kansas City Chiefs can still win the AFC West with a win and Broncos loss … The NFL pushed back the kickoff of Chiefs-Raiders to match with Broncos-Chargers. Both games to decide the division champion begin at 4:25 p.m. ET … Reid told reporters he plans on playing his starters vs. Oakland … Kansas City has a shot to top its franchise-record win streak (nine) with a 10th consecutive win on Sunday … Marcel Reece was suspended, knocking the team’s 2016 Pro Bowlers back to two … For the first time in Oakland Raiders history, the team could finish the NFL season with a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver … Khalil Mack is a half-sack ahead of Houston’s J.J. Watt for the NFL lead … he’s just one sack away from tying the Raiders’ single-season record (Derrick Burgess, 16.0 in 2005) … the Raiders can finish .500 for the first time since 2011 with a win.