DENVER -- Second chances don't come often in the NFL.
Neither do division titles for teams coming off a 4-12 season.
The Denver Broncos got both Sunday.
"We're AFC West champs. It doesn't matter how you do it," Head Coach John Fox said. "Once you get into the dance, they can't kick you out, so what we do with it we will be determined here next weekend."
The Broncos will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. MST in the wildcard round of the playoffs, and they enter the postseason despite a 7-3 loss to the Chiefs in Week 17.
"It's, obviously, a little bittersweet right now," quarterback
A 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter by Chiefs' running back Dexter McCluster proved to be the game-winning score in a defensive duel Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High where each team had just five third down conversions.
After recovering a muffed punt early in the second half,
"Our defense is playing lights out," wide receiver
Tebow, who had just six completions on the day, was intercepted on a fourth down pass with 19 seconds remaining, allowing Kansas City to run the remaining seconds off the clock.
"As a quarterback you've just got to find a way to put your team in the end zone," Tebow said. "We've just got to find a way."
The moment the Chiefs took a knee and time expired, the Broncos season hinged on the result in Oakland.
Minutes later the Chargers sealed a 38-26 victory over the Raiders, making the 8-8 Broncos AFC West Champions for the first time since 2005.
"We had to wait for another team to win their game to let us know we were going to be AFC West champs," running back
There was no boisterous celebration in the Denver locker room when the final score in Oakland came through. No division championship apparel passed around.
The Broncos made it clear they were treating the regular season finale like a playoff game throughout the week of practice, knowing a win would clinch the division.
San Diego's victory allowed Denver's season to continue but the playoff-bound Broncos know second chances no longer exist.
"We have to get better," cornerback
"I know we're better than what we've been showing," Bailey added. "The good thing is that we're in it and we have a chance."
The Broncos have the opportunity they so desperately wanted. Now they'll look to take advantage of it.
"It's about what you're going to do with the opportunity when you get there," linebacker