DENVER -- Peyton Manning spent most of the game on the sideline, wearing a jacket and a headset. The Denver Broncos can only dream of seeing the same sight next week.
Jake Plummer threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns yesterday to help the Broncos qualify for the playoffs with a 33-14 victory over the watered-down Indianapolis Colts.
The win gave Denver (10-6) the AFC's final wild-card spot, and a trip to Indy for a rematch next Sunday in which Manning will almost certainly throw more than the two passes he attempted in this game.
"I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I still think we sent a message today," said Broncos safety John Lynch, who made a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts fullback Dallas Clark early in the game. "We got some stuff done."
The result eliminated Jacksonville and Baltimore from the playoff race and meant the Broncos will start the postseason at the RCA Dome, the site of their 41-10 humiliation by the Colts in last year's first round.
The Colts (12-4) came into this game locked into the third seed in the AFC playoffs and knowing a rematch with Denver was very possible. They had nothing to play for, little incentive to show anything, and acted accordingly.
Manning played just one series, throwing two passes and finishing the regular season with the same NFL-record 49 touchdowns he entered the week with.
Manning wasn't the only one to sit. Edgerrin James ran one time for minus-2 yards. The Colts started three rookies in their defensive backfield and Plummer took advantage, writing a nice closing chapter to a difficult regular season in which he took every snap.
His 246 yards gave him 4,089 for the season, surpassing John Elway (1993) for the season franchise record. His two touchdowns, including a 38-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Ashley Lelie, gave Plummer 27 for the season, which tied Elway for the team record.
"I've never been about stats," Plummer said. "I'm really happy to be back in the playoffs." With his afternoon over, Manning stood on the sideline with the headphones on and watched rookie Jim Sorgi lead the Colts.Sorgi (16 for 25, 168 yards, two touchdowns) completed his first seven passes and led Indy on a 56-yard drive for an early 7-0 lead. Later, he hit Reggie Wayne on a timing route and Wayne spun away from two Broncos for a 71-yard score that cut Denver's 10-point lead to 17-14. From there, though, Denver slowly pulled away.
Tatum Bell led the Broncos with 91 yards on 16 carries. Reuben Droughns had 76 yards on 15 tries. Dominic Rhodes played in place of James and had 34 yards and one lost fumble, which led to one of Jason Elam's four field goals and a 20-14 lead before halftime.