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Broncos roll into playoffs with rout of Chiefs

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Broncos roll into playoffs with rout of Chiefs

DENVER (AP) The fans behind the south end zone who earlier had a great view of Peyton Manning's heart-skipping effort to tackle cornerback Brandon Flowers held up their index fingers as the final seconds ticked away on Denver's 38-3 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.

``We're No. 1!''

It was an appropriate salute for two franchises whose fortunes couldn't have been more different this year.

With their biggest win ever over their AFC West rival, the Broncos (13-3) on Sunday secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the first time since John Elway was leading touchdown drives instead of cheers from his luxury suite.

The Chiefs (2-14), well, they own the top pick in the NFL draft now.

Manning guided Denver to its 11th straight win and made sure the only trip the Broncos will have to make on their road to a championship would be to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. They'll open the playoffs at home the weekend of Jan. 12 against Baltimore, Cincinnati or Manning's old team, the Colts.

``I threw it OK today, I guess,'' said the ever-modest Manning, who completed 23 of 29 passes for 304 yards and a 144.8 passer rating.

He was within 41 yards of his career high when he donned a cap for the fourth quarter, yet another NFL record in his pocket - this marked his 73rd three-touchdown game, surpassing the record held by Brett Favre.

Before he threw any of them, though, Manning had to race downfield to try to deny Flowers a touchdown after the Chiefs cornerback scooped up rookie Ronnie Hillman's fumble at the Kansas City 24 in the first quarter.

He didn't get there, but he did slow him down enough to make Flowers cut back, and tight end Joel Dreessen dragged him down at the 12. After that, the Chiefs settled for a field goal and then watched the Broncos score the next 31 points.

``Me, I'm telling him to get out of the way,'' Champ Bailey said, echoing the sentiments of Broncos fans everywhere. ``But the competitive nature of him is telling him to make the tackle. He stuck his neck out there.''

His four-time surgically-repaired neck.

``I didn't get the tackle?'' Manning deadpanned. ``Dreessen hit him? That's perfect. . I knew if I at least made them cut back, I thought somebody would be in there. I thought I got a hand on him though. Maybe a half? Can I get a half? Can we check with that? I thought I got a piece of him.''

He'll have to be satisfied with a season for the ages - at 36, coming off a year's forced sabbatical, Manning put up numbers that were better than the average of the four years he won MVP honors. He finished the season with 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 passer rating, all second-best of his 15-year career, putting him in line for a fifth MVP award.

``What he has done, to be coming off that type of rehab, that type of injury, at his position, in a new city, with a new team, I think it's unprecedented,'' coach John Fox said after his 100th win. ``Historical would be the word I'd use.''

Asked if he was a year ahead of where he thought he'd be in his comeback, Manning said, ``I guess you could say that. I just didn't know. I still think there are still things we can improve on. I still think there still are things that just take time, that you just can't get done in a year.''

Manning threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker and one to Demaryius Thomas. Each had a one-handed TD grab that gave the Broncos some otherworldly highlights to go with their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

This was the second straight Sunday Manning used a grey-and-orange glove to prepare for the cold, playoff weather he could face at home the next two games.

``You know, for wearing it for the first time in my entire football career, I guess you could say it's been OK the past two weeks,'' Manning said.

Thanks to Houston's 28-16 loss to Indianapolis before the Broncos kicked off, Denver will be the top seed for the sixth time. The Broncos made the Super Bowl four of the previous five times.

Though the Chiefs gave the Broncos as tough a tussle as anyone during their 11-game winning streak - in a 17-9 loss last month - this wasn't expected to be much of a game, and it wasn't.

``It's been a gratifying regular season,'' Manning said. ``I will admit that. It is certainly more than I expected.''

On the other end of the spectrum are the Chiefs, who finished with 119 yards of offense a week after running for 352 yards in what might have been coach Romeo Crennel's farewell.

Injuries and ineffective play derailed a team predicted to finish near the top of the AFC West before the season. They also faced adversity off the field as well, when Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend before committing suicide at the team's practice facility on Dec. 1.

``I think the season finally caught up to these guys and I think it showed on the field,'' Crennel said.

NOTES: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles ran for 53 yards to finish with 1,509. ... The Broncos swept six games in the division for the first time since 1998 - the last time they won the Super Bowl. ... Broncos S Rahim Moore got his first career sack and Miller had one to extend his team single season record to 18 1/2. ... Hillman wasn't seen against after his fumble. Lance Ball replaced him as Knowshon Moreno's backup and led the team with 66 yards on 15 carries. ... Broncos QB Brock Osweiler threw his first NFL passes and finished 2 for 4 for 12 yards. ``I'm not here just to hand off,'' he said.

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  

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Report: Deputy considering lawsuit against Raptors' Masai Ujiri

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Report: Deputy considering lawsuit against Raptors' Masai Ujiri

The sheriff's deputy who allegedly got into an altercation with Raptors president of operations Masai Ujiri has retained a lawyer and is considering filing a lawsuit against the Raptors executive, according to a report. 

David Mastagni, the newly hired attorney, told San Francisco TV station KPIX reporter Katie Nielsen and the Associated Press that the Alameda County sheriff's deputy was unable to work and had a concussion from the incident following the Raptors' NBA championship win at Oracle Arena last week.

Sgt. Ray Kelly told NBC Sports Washington last week that Ujiri wasn't wearing the proper credentials to celebrate with the Raptors on the court at Oracle Arena after his team won the final. When the sheriff's deputy tried to stop him, according to Kelly, he was pushed and struck in the face by Ujiri. 

Ujiri was eventually identified and allowed on the floor. He was seen moments later celebrating with the Raptors players on the ABC broadcast. 

Last week a Raptors spokesperson told NBC Sports Washington that the incident “is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities. We look forward to resolving the situation.” When reached on Tuesday, the spokesperson said there was no further comment.

On Tuesday, KPIX's Nielsen reported that Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern had reviewed body camera and security camera footage of the incident and supports the deputy. According to the report,  he is recommending the case move forward to the District Attorney for charges of misdemeanor battery of a police officer.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported earlier that the Wizards were preparing an offer to try to lure Ujiri from Toronto to take the vacant top position in the team's front office - though Ujiri, while celebrating at the parade in Toronto on Monday, might have hinted that he wasn't interested in leaving quite yet. "We will continue to win in Toronto," he told fans.

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