Rapid Reaction: Broncos 31, Buccaneers 23

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
7:26
PM ET

DENVER -- A look at a playoff-clinching victory for the Denver Broncos.

What it means: The AFC West is over. Denver just clinched it. It is the first time the Broncos have won back-to-back division crowns since 1986-87. The Broncos are 9-3 and they have won seven straight games. It is their first seven-game win streak since the 1997-98 season.

Second half takeover: Tampa Bay led 10-7 at the half. Denver was sloppy in the first half. Yet, the Broncos exploded for three touchdowns in the third quarter to run away from the Buccaneers. This continues an early-season trend of strong second-half play for Denver after slow starts.

Manning-Thomas combination shines: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Demaryius Thomas are clicking at a high level. Thomas had two touchdown catches and eight catches for 99 yards. Manning has thrown 29 touchdown passes this season, which is a team record.

Miller makes case: Denver second-year linebacker Von Miller had an interception return for a touchdown and he forced a fumble. He continued to make a strong push for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. It was a good start to December for Miller, who was the AFC Defensive Player of the month for November.

What’s next: Denver plays at Oakland on Thursday night in a short week. Even with the West clinched, the Broncos have plenty to play for. They still hope to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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