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Denver's playoff hopes are in peril after Titans loss, which featured a mass brawl

The reigning Super Bowl champions suffered a massive blow on Sunday.

Image: James Kenney

REIGNING SUPER BOWL champions the Denver Broncos suffered a blow to their hopes of a playoff place on Sunday after slumping to a 13-10 defeat against the Tennessee Titans.

An ill-tempered game marred by a mass brawl involving Denver cornerback Aqib Talib saw the Titans hang on for a gritty victory at the Nissan Stadium.

A low-scoring game was settled in Tennessee’s favour with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter when Avery Williamson stripped A.J. Avery to force a fumble and hand possession to the Titans.

The Titans had taken a 13-0 lead into the fourth quarter following an early DeMarco Murray touchdown and two field goals from Ryan Succop.

The main talking point of the first half was a protracted melee triggered shortly after Titans receiver Harry Douglas flew into Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr with a wild block below the knee.

Broncos enforcer Talib sought out Douglas in the next play, triggering an ugly scuffle.

When tempers settled, Denver hit back in the fourth quarter, Trevor Siemian connecting with Emmanuel Sanders for a three-yard touchdown pass to reduce the deficit.

Brandon McManus then cut the Titans lead to three points with a field goal to put the Broncos within striking distance of a comeback.

But Williamson’s late defensive play on Avery scuppered Denver’s final drive and leaves the Broncos facing a dogfight to reach the playoffs.

The Broncos are now languishing in third spot in the AFC West on 8-5 behind Kansas City and Oakland who are 10-3.

If the Broncos fail to snaffle a wild card place they will become the latest team to fall victim to the so-called “Super Bowl curse” which has seen various franchises suffer in the seasons following their respective triumphs.

The Baltimore Ravens were the last Super Bowl winners to fail to make the playoffs in the season following their triumph in 2013.

NFL Week 14 results – Sunday’s early games

Washington 27 @ 22 Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings 25 @ 16 Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 @ 20 Buffalo Bills
Arizona Cardinals 23 @ 26 Miami Dolphins
Chicago Bears 17 @ 20 Detroit Lions
San Diego Chargers 16 @ 28 Carolina Panthers
Houston Texans 22 @ 17 Indianapolis Colts
Cincinnati Bengals 23 @ 10 Cleveland Browns

With additional reporting from Kevin O’Brien

© – AFP, 2016

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