Denver — Champ Bailey has pretty much accomplished everything there is to on a football field.
Well, with one glaring exception, which the Broncos cornerback finally remedied Sunday — he’s headed to his first Super Bowl.
Bailey turned in one of his best performances of the season to help Denver to a 26-16 win over New England Sunday in the AFC championship game.
The 15-year veteran downplayed his emotions after the game, saying there’s “still another game to play.”
But his broad smile betrayed his true feelings, especially after missing a good portion of the season because of a lingering foot injury.
“I’m certainly happy for Champ. I know a lot of people are,” said Peyton Manning, who’s going to his third Super Bowl. “I’m glad he’s back out there on the field.”
In the locker room, Bailey, 35, had a lengthy chat with former safety John Lynch. Nearly eight years ago, the two were teammates when the Steelers arrived at Mile High and beat the Broncos, 34-17.
That’s as close as Bailey’s come to the Super Bowl — until now.
“Well, that guy deserves it, man,” Lynch said. “I’m happy for him, proud of him. I said he’d play really big and I think quietly he really did. I thought he played outstanding and I knew he would because he’s that kind of competitor.”
Tom Brady didn’t look Bailey’s way all that often, respecting the 12-time Pro Bowler, even if he’s been slowed by that nagging foot injury. Bailey finished with three tackles.
“Everyone thinks he’s old, over the hill, but he’s been a great player throughout his whole career and great players, when it matters most, play great and he certainly did today,” Lynch said. “It was fun to watch him today.”
Seconds after making the game-saving play to send Seattle to the Super Bowl, Richard Sherman proved he was just warming up.
Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree near the corner of the end zone with less than a minute left, and into the arms of Seattle teammate Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory.
Sherman was subsequently whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, after exchanging words with Crabtree and making what appeared to be a choking gesture.
Asked about the incident afterward by Fox reporter Erin Andrews, Sherman stole the show and lit up Twitter with a rant that began: “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Patriots can't run
LeGarrette Blount couldn’t be stopped a week ago, bashing his way for 166 yards and four TDs against Indy.
On Sunday, he couldn’t get going against the Broncos. Neither could Stevan Ridley. No one could for the Patriots, who gained just 64 yards on the ground.
Manning vs. Brady
Manning improved to 5-10 against New England’s Tom Brady, including 2-2 in the postseason. The two shared a brief conversation after the game.
“Tom congratulated me and wished me luck,” Manning said. “I’ve said to him a number of times what a great player that I think he is and he was very classy in his conversation with me.”
Manning became the third quarterback to lead different teams to a Super Bowl. He joins Craig Morton (Dallas 1970 and Denver in 1977) and Kurt Warner (St. Louis 1999 and 2001 and Arizona in 2008). Manning led the Colts to the Super Bowl in 2006 and 2009.
Omaha aids charity
Manning’s foundation for at-risk youth will receive a $24,800 donation for all the times he shouted “Omaha” during the AFC championship game.
The donations were organized by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Eight Omaha companies combined to donate $800 to Manning’s “Peyback Foundation” for each of the 31 times he yelled “Omaha” during the Broncos’ victory.