Manning's backup finally has a TD throw

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The weight of the wait is finally lifted from Brock Osweiler's shoulders.

Peyton Manning's third-year apprentice finally found the end zone in the Broncos' season finale, throwing a 1-yard dart to tight end Virgil Green to cap Denver's 47-14 rout of the Raiders.

''It was very exciting. I'm glad we got it out of the way, and hopefully there are a lot more to come,'' Osweiler said of his first career touchdown throw.

''It's just such an exciting moment. I know it was Virgil's first touchdown as well, and he's put so much work into this organization and into his career,'' Osweiler said. ''The same goes for me, so to go out there and have a little fun at the end of the game really put a cap on the season.''

The TD also was sweet vindication for Osweiler, who had a poor performance two weeks earlier at San Diego in relief of a flu-ridden Manning.

After Manning trotted into the tunnel for treatment on a strained thigh he blamed on dehydration, Osweiler went in with 87 seconds left in the first half and promptly fluttered a pass that was nearly picked off, then committed intentional grounding on his second snap.

The Chargers got the ball back with just under a minute left and drove for a field goal that trimmed Denver's lead to six points at the half. Osweiler was warming up for the second half when Manning made what coach John Fox called a ''cavalry entrance'' and played the rest of the way in Denver's 22-10 win.

Osweiler entered his last game under very different circumstances.

The Broncos were up 40-14 when he trotted out with 4:20 remaining. On third-and-10 from the Oakland 44, Osweiler hit Green with a deep pass over the middle.

''I was rooting for him to score,'' Osweiler said. ''As soon as I threw it, I was like, `Go! Go! Go! Go!'''

Charles Woodson, however, dragged down Green at the 6.

''I was so disappointed. I thought I'd let a huge opportunity slip away,'' Green said Tuesday.

On third-and-goal from the 1, offensive coordinator Adam Gase called for a pass play and the Osweiler-to-Green score was both meaningless and significant.

''It was kind of the monkey off my back,'' Osweiler said.

Manning was thrilled for his backup's breakthrough.

''It was his kind of call on that touchdown,'' Osweiler said. ''We were all trying to get Virgil a score, and we were all talking on the sideline. He (Manning) thought up the concept to get him in the end zone, so he was happy for the both of us.''

Green, a fourth-year tight end, kept the ball for his mantle.

''That's OK with me,'' Osweiler said. ''He waited longer for it, so that's all his.''

Besides, Osweiler now heads into the playoffs feeling both a sense of accomplishment and relief, two things that could come in handy if he has to take any significant snaps in the postseason.

''It's huge,'' Osweiler said. ''It finally got the bad taste out of my mouth.''

Osweiler finished 2-for-2 for 39 yards and a perfect 158.3 passer rating - something Manning has accomplished three times in his 17-year NFL career, the last one coming on Jan. 4, 2004, against Denver in the playoffs.

''Yeah, you know I only had two pass attempts, so I won't ride that too much, but I'll take it for now,'' Osweiler said. ''And it's something to build upon.''

Osweiler said he trusts that if he has to spell Manning in the postseason the Broncos won't have to pump the brakes on their offense, although they might tailor some things to his skill set.

''Obviously, he has 17 years' experience and I haven't even started a single game. But once again, I'm very confident in my abilities,'' Osweiler said. ''I study, I prepare just like I'm a starter every week. So, I can't say that there wouldn't be a fall-off, but I can promise you I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure there isn't.''

Notes: Manning took the day off Tuesday along with WRs Demaryius Thomas (finger), Emmanuel Sanders (back) and Wes Welker. Also out: LG Orlando Franklin (head), S David Bruton Jr. (head, neck) and RB Juwan Thompson (hip, knee). ... The Broncos practice again Wednesday before getting a three-day furlough.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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