- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Champ Bailey has pretty much accomplished everything there is to on a football field.

Well, with one glaring exception, which the Denver 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 the Denver Broncos to a 26-16 win over New England on 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, the 35-year-old Bailey had a lengthy chat with former safety John Lynch. Nearly eight years ago, the two were teammates when the Pittsburgh 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.”


HALTED GROUND GAME: 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.

That certainly surprised cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

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