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Broncos to meet Seahawks in Super Bowl

DENVER -- Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will meet Russell Wilson's Seattle Seahawks in next month's NFL Super Bowl.

The Broncos made the title game after a 26-16 victory over the Patriots in the American Football Conference final on Sunday.

In the National Football Conference championship, Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down as the Seahawks advanced to their second Super Bowl with a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Less than three years after being unable to throw a football because of his surgically ravaged neck and nerve endings, Manning will get a chance for his second title. He'll try to become the first quarterback to win one with two different teams, at the Meadowlands on Feb. 2.

“Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl, I know how hard it is to get there,” Manning said.

After taking the final knee, Manning stuffed the football in his helmet and ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady. The Indy-turned-Denver quarterback improved to 5-10 lifetime against New England's QB but 2-1 in AFC title games.

It was far from a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment of the NFL's two best quarterbacks of their generation. But Manning, who finished 32 for 43 for 400 yards and two short touchdown passes, set up four field goals by Matt Prater and put his stamp on this one with a pair of long, meticulous and mistake-free touchdown drives in which nothing came cheap.

Manning geared down the no-huddle, hurry-up offense that helped him set records for touchdown passes and yardage this season and made the Broncos the highest-scoring team in history. The result: A pair of scoring drives that lasted a few seconds over seven minutes; they were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for the Broncos (15-3).

Manning capped the second with a 3-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas — who got inside the overmatched Alfonzo Dennard and left his feet to make the catch — for a 20-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

A win at MetLife Stadium would put him in the same company as his brother, Eli, along with John Elway, Roger Staubach and others as a two-time Super Bowl winner.

Later, Seattle's top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers as the Seahawks booked their first trip to the Super Bowl since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.

The conference champions had the best records in the league this year, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since the 2010 game.

Moments after Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick's pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the clinching interception, the All-Pro cornerback jumped into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks' raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere, and “New York, New York” blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.

“That's as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said.

San Francisco (14-5) led 17-13 when Wilson, given a free play as Aldon Smith jumped offside, hurled the ball to Jermaine Kearse, who made a leaping catch in the end zone over Carlos Rogers.

Steven Hauschka then kicked his third field goal, and Smith intercepted in the end zone on the 49ers' final possession.

“This feels even sweeter, with the amazing support we have had from the 12th Man,” team owner Paul Allen said, comparing this Super Bowl trip to the previous one.

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Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno #27 leaps over New England Patriots strong safety Duron Harmon #30 during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, Jan. 19. (AFP)

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