The slumping Denver Broncos won the AFC West Division title and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in six years despite losing their regular season finale to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Denver (8-8) fell 7-3 to visiting Kansas City, but captured the AFC West crown shortly after when the division rivals Oakland Raiders (8-8) were defeated 38-26 by the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) on Sunday.
With three straight losses to close out the regular season, the Broncos stumble into the playoffs through the back door, but coach John Fox was unapologetic, saying all that matters is Denver are back in the postseason.
“We are AFC champs, no matter how you do it once you get in the dance they can’t kick you out so what we will do with it will be determined here next weekend,” Fox told reporters. “We didn’t get enough done tonight, we need to score more points.”
“Our running attack has been very effective ... I think our passing game is something that we will have to improve at,” he added.
Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, who produced plenty of late game heroics getting Denver in position for a playoff berth, was unable to work his fourth quarter magic against the Chiefs completing just six passes for 60 yards.
Kyle Orton, who was released by Denver after Tebow took over the starting job, got his revenge completing 15 of 29 for 180 yards to outshine his former backup.
Dexter McCluster recorded the game’s only touchdown in the opening quarter rushing for 21 yards, while Denver’s only points came courtesy of 38-yard third quarter Matt Prater field goal.
“We need work in the passing game,” Fox said. “It has plagued us most season and it’s something that if we are going to do anything in the playoffs we’ll have to improve that.”