SAN DIEGO – One down, two to go.
The Broncos clinched the AFC West crown on Sunday as they defeated the Chargers in San Diego, 22-10. While the Broncos still would have had the chance to win the division had they left Qualcomm Stadium with a loss, they looked at Sunday's game like the AFC West title game.
"We're one step closer," said Emmanuel Sanders. "Obviously we've got a playoff berth now and in order to win it all we have to make the playoffs and that's something that we did. We're excited but we've still got two more games left on the schedule and we're watching New England close and obviously we want to clinch home field advantage but we just have to continuously handle business."
Check out the action from the second half of Sunday's big win over the Chargers.
In his debut season with the Broncos, this is Sanders' first AFC West title. As one of many key offseason acquisitions, he noted that this team was designed to win a Super Bowl.
Sunday's game was the first box of many that the Broncos got to check off in their 2014 to-do list.
The Broncos have now clinched four consecutive AFC West titles and their 14th overall, now leading the Raiders by two in division history.
"It's great," said Von Miller, who has been with the Broncos since the streak began, said. "I just think it's a testament to all the work that we've put in since I got here and all the guys that we have here. We've had a lot of guys come through here but we've done it with a lot of guys that have been here from the beginning. It's great to work and work and work to become the team that we are now. We've still got a long way to go but it feels great where we are now."
In addition to clinching a playoff berth, the Broncos also tied an NFL record with their 12th straight divisional road win – matching the mark the 49ers set from 1987-90.
"We know it's going to be a tough battle every time we come. Every time we play a divisional opponent, it's going to be hard, and the Chargers are a good football team, so we're not going to take anything from them, because they gave us their best shot today," C.J. Anderson said. "We just went out there and executed and got the outcome we want."
Chris Harris Jr. said it's very difficult to beat the teams that know you the best.
"The Chargers, they know everything about us," Harris said. "We've played them so many times. Rivers, he knows everything on our defense. To come up here and get another win on the road here, that's huge, that's something that a lot of teams haven't done and to win four straight, that's incredible man."
These four straight titles coincide with the four-year tenure of John Fox, who is now just the second coach in league history to lead a team to division titles in each of his first four years. Malik Jackson credits the Broncos' coaches for the successes of the team, specifically when they are playing on the road.
"Coach Fox knows how to take care of us," Jackson said. "We've got players that know what it takes to get there so it's one of those things where we've got good players, good coaches and good management. That's all coming together."
In the locker room after Sunday's game, John Elway gave a speech honoring Fox's accomplishments with the Broncos and gave him the game ball.
"I think John's done a tremendous job of carrying on, really the culture Pat Bowlen set here 30 years ago and this really is for Pat and what he's done for the Broncos," Fox said after the game. "I think hiring John was a masterful thing that Mr. Bowlen did and I think he's done a tremendous job."
While Sunday's accomplishment was tremendous, the Broncos know they have a long way to reach their ultimate goal.
"Yeah it was a great win … a lot of toughness on our team's part," Peyton Manning said. "We had a lot of guys banged up, a lot of reserves stepped up and did a good job, a lot of the main starters raised their level of play. Defense did a great job keeping them out of the end zone and offensively, some guys stepped up at some critical times. So just a good team win. I think it's a tough division, I really do. I think you've got – it's a tough division to win.
"So it feels good, it guarantees you a spot in the playoffs – that's all it does – but at least you have a shot."