The Denver Broncos were able to convert a first down and Peyton Manning took two heavily challenged kneel-downs to close the game with Broncos on top 31-23. The win clinches the AFC West for the Broncos, while the Buccaneers are still in the thick of the NFC Wild Card Race at 6-6.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning ended the day with 242 yards passing on 27 completions. He threw for three touchdowns and one interception. His first touchdown of the day was a one-yard connection to DT Mitch Unrein who was in the game as an extra blocker. The other two landed in the hands of WR Demaryius Thomas.
Thomas ended the day as the Broncos’ leading receiver with eight receptions for 99 yards. TE Jacob Tamme added 89 yards on nine catches. WR Eric Decker had a quiet day with two receptions for 17 yards.
On the ground, the Broncos were led by RB Knowshon Moreno how had 69 yards on 20 carries. Ronnie Hillman added 29 yards.
Cornerback Chris Harris tied LB Von Miller for the lead in tackles with six. Von Miller was also a disruption adding one sack, one interception and a forced fumble.
For the Buccaneers, QB Josh Freeman tied Manning’s yardage output with 242. He hit on 18 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.
His first touchdown went to Dallas Clark in the first quarter from 11-yards out. Clark added two more catches in the game, finishing with 19 yards. WR Mike Williams was on the receiving end of Freeman’s second TD. He ended the day as the Bucs’ leading pass-catcher with 93 yards on six grabs. WR Vincent Jackson has three catches for 55 yards.
RB Doug Martin fell just two yards shy of 100 all-purpose yards; the first time he hasn’t broken the 100-yard mark since the Week Five bye. He had 56 rushing yards on 18 carries and added three receptions for 42 yards.
Connor Barth attributed 11 of the Buccaneers points. Two were on extra points, the other nine come on field goals from 31, 50 and 55 yards out. His two 50+ yard kicks gives him six from that distance this season, setting a Buccaneer record.
LB Lavonte David again was the Buccaneers’ leading tackler with 10. He also pulled down an interception and three tackles for a loss. The Buccaneers finished with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The Buccaneers will play their next game at Raymond James Stadium when they host the 3-8 Philadelphia Eagles. The game is a 1 PM kickoff next Sunday. The game is a rematch of the 2002 NFC Championship Game won by the Bucs on route to the Super Bowl. At the game, the Buccaneers will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Super Bowl Championship with a halftime show featuring players from the team.