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NFL Playoff Capsules

DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning welcomed Wes Welker back into the lineup with a touchdown toss and the Denver Broncos narrowly avoided a repeat of their playoff slip from last year, advancing to the AFC championship game with a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

The Broncos (14-3) controlled the game for 3½ quarters before Philip Rivers capitalized on an injury to cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to stage a comeback reminiscent of Baltimore's shocking win at Denver exactly a year earlier.

This time, however, Manning rescued the Broncos from the brink of another crushing collapse and sent them into the title game for the first time in eight seasons.

They'll host the New England Patriots (13-4) on Sunday. Get ready for Brady vs. Manning once more.

49ERS 23, PANTHERS 10

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Colin Kaepernick threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score and San Francisco defeated Carolina to advance to the NFC championship game for the third straight season.

Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yards, avenging his worst statistical performance of the season two months ago against the Panthers.

Anquan Boldin had eight catches for 136 yards and Frank Gore ran for 84 yards on 17 carries for the 49ers (14-4), who'll travel to Seattle next Sunday looking for a return trip to the Super Bowl. San Francisco split two games with the Seahawks this season.

The 49ers held Cam Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him four times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on a 1-yard line.

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — LeGarrette Blount had four touchdown runs and the New England Patriots kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win, beating the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 on Saturday night to advance to their third consecutive AFC championship game.

Blount scored on three 2-yard runs in the first half, then burst through the right side of the line and rambled 73 yards into the end zone, where he placed the ball gently on the ground made soggy by a game-long rain. He finished with 166 yards on 24 carries.

On the next series, Luck threw his third interception and the Patriots capitalized with Stevan Ridley's second touchdown run, a 1-yarder that finished the scoring with 11:12 left.

The Patriots (13-4) will face the winner of the game Sunday between the Broncos and Chargers. It will be in Denver if the Broncos win, and New England will host it if the Chargers win. The Colts (12-6) never led.

Blount joined Ricky Watters, who had five touchdowns for San Francisco on Jan. 15, 1994, as the only players with four or more in a playoff game. And the six rushing touchdowns by the Patriots tied the 49ers' total in that game for second most in playoff history.

Billed as a matchup between quarterbacks — long-time great Tom Brady and second-year star Luck — the Patriots' leader was content to hand off while Luck threw an interception on his second pass and never found consistency. He threw two touchdown passes to LaVon Brazill but also threw four interceptions.

Luck threw three interceptions a week earlier but led the Colts from a 38-10 deficit early in the third quarter to a 45-44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game.

The Colts trailed 21-12 at halftime against the Patriots and cut it to 29-22 on a 35-yard pass to Brazill with 5:01 left in the third. The Patriots dominated the rest of the way.

SEAHAWKS 23, SAINTS 15

SEATTLE (AP) — Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals in blustery conditions and Seattle flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in an NFC divisional playoff game.

The top-seeded Seahawks advanced to the NFC championship game for the second time in franchise history and will host San Francisco or Carolina next Sunday.

Seattle shut out the Saints in the first half, got Lynch's first 100-yard game since Week 10 of the regular season and received a spark from the brief return of Percy Harvin before he left with a concussion. Lynch scored on a 15-yard run in the first half and capped the victory with a 31-yard scoring run with 2:40 left that coach Pete Carroll celebrated by jumping into offensive line coach Tom Cable's arms.

Lynch finished with 28 carries and made up for another shaky day passing by Russell Wilson.

Wilson missed on five of his first six pass attempts to start the second half but came through with a 31-yarder to Doug Baldwin with 2:57 left. On the next play, Lynch raced down the sideline for his second TD.

Brees finished 24 of 43 for 309 yards and gave Seattle a late scare. After Lynch's touchdown, Brees took the Saints 80 yards in nine plays, capped with a 9-yard TD pass to Marques Colston with 26 seconds left.

Colston then recovered the onside kick that caromed off Golden Tate's chest. Brees took over at his 41 with 24 seconds left and Jimmy Graham caught his first pass of the game on an 8-yard completion. Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock, then found Colston near the sideline. Instead of stepping out of bounds to have one more play, Colston tried to throw across the field. The pass was forward and the penalty for an illegal forward pass ran off the final seconds on the clock.

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