Chiefs 7, Broncos 3

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow reacts to a sack in the third quarter. The former UF star had 60 yards passing and 16 rushing.

Associated Press

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow reacts to a sack in the third quarter. The former UF star had 60 yards passing and 16 rushing.

DENVER — Tim Tebow still can't beat Kyle Orton on the football field.

And Orton still can't top Tebow when it's all said and done.

Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, has always done things the unorthodox way. Making the playoffs was no different.

He fell short in his latest comeback bid, but his Broncos got into the postseason party anyway when San Diego knocked off Oakland minutes later.

Orton, who lost his starting job with the Broncos to Tebow then was waived this season, got his revenge in leading the Chiefs to a 7-3 win over Denver on Sunday. But the Broncos clinched the AFC West and are headed to the postseason, where they host Pittsburgh next Sunday.

"It's obviously a little bittersweet right now," Tebow said. "We would have loved to have won that game to have a little momentum going into the playoffs. But I think it's still a special thing what we accomplished, to come back and win the AFC West is very special."

After begrudgingly congratulating their former teammate, the Broncos celebrated once the Chargers eliminated the Raiders 38-26. The Broncos finished 8-8, same as the Raiders and Chargers. They won their first division title since 2005 on a tiebreaker, going 6-6 against common opponents while the others went 5-7.

So, Tebow got the last laugh after all.

Orton, meanwhile, likely raised his stock as he prepares to enter free agency. And he might have secured interim coach Romeo Crennel's future.

Orton laid low all last week but he finally confessed afterward that this game had special meaning to him.

"I can't hide that," he said. "But I congratulate those guys. They're in. I congratulate them and I look forward to next year."

The Broncos revamped their offense to fit Tebow's unconventional skill set and surged to the top of their division. They released Orton in the midst of a 7-1 run that included a series of fourth-quarter comebacks that captivated the football world.

This time, the only touchdown came on a 21-yard scamper in the first quarter by Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster, a former star at Largo High.

The Broncos got one last shot when they got the ball at their 16 with just less than a minute left. Tebow time? Not this time.

The Broncos lost two offensive starters in the first half when right guard Chris Kuper broke his left leg and fullback Spencer Larsen hurt a knee.

"Not the way you want to go in," Denver cornerback Champ Bailey said as he saw the Chargers-Raiders game on TV. "But, hey, we've got another shot."

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Chiefs 7, Broncos 3 01/01/12 [Last modified: Sunday, January 1, 2012 11:26pm]

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