Week 17 The Waiting Game The Broncos Win over San Diego Puts AFC Playoff Race on the Clock Kyle Orton was near perfect on this day, keeping his team's slim playoff hopes alive. Denver, CO - A disappointing loss a week ago put the Broncos fate in the hands of others. They would need a win plus a ton of help to even have a shot at a playoff berth. For the first time in three weeks, Denver did their part. The Broncos scored points on every possession except the clock-killing last drive and held off a late San Diego charge (no pun intended) for a 24-21 win in their regular season finale. Kyle Orton was magnificent in this one, completing 20-of-26 passes for 280 yards and 2 TDs, hooking up with 6 different receivers along the way. Denver got on the board first when a long drive stalled deep in San Diego territory. Matt Prater's 32-yard field goal put his team up 3-0. The Chargers responded with a long drive of their own, getting all the way down to the Denver 2-yard line. Three consecutive stuffs on running attempts led to a Nate Kaeding 18-yard FG to tie the game at 3. In the second quarter, Denver took the ball and once again marched right down the field. Rather than settling for the 3 points, the Broncos punched it in, with fullback Justin Green scoring from 1-yard out for a 10-3 Bronco lead. Kaeding connected from 46 yards out with 1:30 left in the half to cut the lead to four points at 10-6. However, the Chargers left too much time on the clock. Orton capitalized, driving his team into enemy territory and putting 7 more points on the board when he connected with Terrell Owens for a 26-yard TD - the seventh time the pair has hooked up for a TD this season. The late score sent the Broncos into the locker room with a 17-6 lead. San Diego had deferred to start the game and received the ball to start the third quarter. They imposed their will on the Broncos, wearing out their defense with a 14 play, 79 yard drive which lasted nearly 5 minutes. Philip Rivers capped things off with a 16-yard hookup with Malcolm Floyd to bring his team within four at 17-13. Denver answered once again, going on on a 4 1/2 minute drive themselves. They regained an 11-point lead when Orton found third string running back Justin Fargas in the left flat for a 5-yard score. Fargas, who got the start due to injuries to Knowshown Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, found daylight outside a blitzing linebacker and found his way into the end zone for the second time this season. The Chargers would not go down without a fight. They would get within a field goal when Rivers and Floyd connected for their second touchdown of the day, this time from 18 yards out with just under 5 minutes remaining. Darren Sproles caught the 2-point conversion in the back of the end zone to bring San Diego within 3 at 24-21. The Denver offense had been efficient all day and would be asked to finish things off. Surprisingly, they went to the air early in the drive, with Orton connecting with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on key first down conversions. The Broncos had the ball in Charger territory at their 41-yard line and faced a big third down as they neared the two minute warning. Fargas ran right, but would be denied setting up a 4th and 1 and a tough decision for Coach BadaBing. Bing had watched his defense get carved up on two second half drives and with San Diego needing just a field goal with two timeouts left, didn't want to leave it up to his defense. Instead, in a much maligned call, he decided to leave his offense on the field. Orton would reward his faith, finding Owens on a two-yard in route to pick up the first down and essentially seal the game. Fargas picked up one more first down on an off-tackle run, and Orton kneeled on the final play of the regular season before sprinting to the locker room with the ball in his raised right hand. Owens led all receivers with 6 catches for 102 yards and the touchdown. Fargas gained 59 tough yards on 17 carries, while the Denver defense held OMFL rookie of the year Ryan Mathews to just 40 yards on the day. Rivers was 15-for-22 for 240 yards and two touchdowns, with Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Floyd each surpassing 60 yards through the air. Denver's win creates an absolute logjam in the AFC for the final playoff spot. At press time, 5 teams were deadlocked at 8-8 with the Browns-Steelers game holding the key to chaos. A Steeler win will test the tiebreaker system as one team will get a date with the Chiefs while the other 5 sit at home. If Cleveland can win the game, they will earn the final spot, leaving the other .500 teams at home for the playoffs.