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Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and, yes, Peyton Manning headline our Game Balls

When the Denver Broncos win, the MHR Staff gives out game balls. With the game and possibly even the season on the line, Gary Kubiak went to his bullpen for Peyton Manning and lifted the Broncos over the Chargers.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

What a game!

What a season!

The Denver Broncos not only locked up homefield advantage with their win over the San Diego Chargers, they secured their fifth straight AFC West division title. A feat that hasn't been achieved since the Oakland Raiders did it during the 1970s.

The game itself was as wild as it could be. The Broncos racked up over 500 total yards, but with five turnovers the game was in doubt all the way up until the end. Even though Brock Osweiler was having an okay game and was moving the football, Gary Kubiak went with his gut and put Peyton Manning back in the game.

The rest is history.

Demaryius Thomas

With five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, Demaryius Thomas was sort of the only wide receiver who did not have a terrible play that cost the Broncos dearly. His 72 yard catch and run play was easily the biggest offensive play of the game and was impressive to behold as just a great all around individual effort.

The fan hate towards Thomas this year has been borderline absurd as all he has done is continue setting records, despite having to deal with two different quarterbacks and basically two different offensive schemes. He is the only Broncos pass catcher that has been a threat and has been productive in every single game this season.

In short, DT is a beast. - Tim Lynch

Peyton Manning

"Nothing good can come of this!!!" "Nooooo! What are you thinking Kube?" My emotions went from anger to confusion. From confusion to being terrified. From being terrified to being hopeful. From hopeful to being down right excited, and from being excited to being relieved that the greatest QB to ever lace up cleats looked good and healthy for the first time this entire 2015 season. Yes, Peyton Manning, THE Peyton F'ing Manning, gets my gameball.

Stats? I don't need no stinking stats! Stats don't show you the camera shaking ovation that Manning got when he went in the game. Stats don't show you how defeated the Chargers got when they found out that they weren't going against Brock, but instead a 5 time MVP. Stats don't show you the team's excitement to have their general back. I think we need to start a petition to give Peyton this victory. It belongs to him, not Brock, even though Brock played great.

Laurie once wrote that we don't deserve you, and I agree. Most of all, I don't deserve you. I don't deserve to be elated that you will (probably) start the playoffs looking as strong as ever. I don't deserve to have an NFL legend starting for my team in the playoffs, and I don't deserve to cheer for you with childhood hope and truly believe that one of my hero's (even though I was in the military when you entered the NFL) will hoist the Lombardi Trophy! Peyton, we need you. The team needs you! The NFL needs you! But most of all, I'm overjoyed to hear "Omaha" for another post season!

If 2012 was the Broncos strongest team with the best chance to win the championship, then I have to think that with this defense and our running game, that 2015, with a rested Manning, will end with John Elway saying "This one's for Peyton!" with a thunderous roar immediately following. The only other thing I have to add is that Bronco Mike told me and my wife days before he passed that this was Manning's year, and my wife reminded me of that a few times over these last few weeks. This one's for Peyton, and this one's for Mike! Welcome back Peyton Manning! I haven't seen you in quite a while! - Pete Baron

Ronnie Hillman

The Broncos game-winning, 4th-quarter drive was one play, and it was all Ronnie Hillman. His 23-yard jog to the end zone was his second 23-yard run of the day. The Broncos look a lot better when the running game is going, and Hillman and Anderson made sure that was the case. It really doesn't matter if it's Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning at QB when these two backs are running well. - Kyle Montgomery

C.J. Anderson

My game ball goes to CJ Anderson. Yes, I know he fumbled (but it was only the second time he had lost a fumble in the NFL), but he ran really effectively and he, combined with Ronnie Hillman, sparked the offense in the second half. CJ and Ronnie combined for 212 yards on 30 carries (7.1 ypc) and two touchdowns. Our running game took over in the second half and CJ was the main reason. He also had the game-clinching first down run on 3rd and 7 that was full-beast mode.

For the game we finished with 15 runs of 5 yards or longer. Many times when you see a team roll up 200+ yards on the ground they will have a long (50+ yard) run as part of that. Our running game did it but consistently hitting for 5+. We had five runs of longer than 15 yards. We had six runs stopped for negative yardage or no gain, but only one of those happened in the second half. Part of that success was due to Peyton audibling to a run that would attack the weakness of the defense and part of that was Tyler Polumbus not getting owned like Michael Schofield was during the first half. - Joe Mahoney

Gary Kubiak

After the first possession of the second half resulted in the Broncos' fifth turnover, he could sense his offense and team needed a spark. So he made the switch to Peyton Manning. Not only that, he finally benched Michael Schofield. Finally. Both moves did exactly what Kubiak's gut sensed, but the decision to go with the Sheriff was the difference. It's that move that sparked the offense, team and why Denver got the 27-20 win. Kudos to Kubiak for not wavering and doing what the team needed to get the win. - Ian St. Clair

Bradley Roby

Two weeks ago Bradley Roby was responsible for allowing a game-tying touchdown by Marcus Wheaton in the Broncos' loss to the Steelers, and last week he was regularly responsible for big gains by backup tight end Tyler Kroft (playing for an injured Tyler Eifert). But yesterday Bradley Roby made sure the targets to his side were not a liability, and this was especially the case in the fourth quarter with his tackle on Danny Woodhead a yard short of the first down that forced a punt and prevented the Chargers from keeping the ball and trying to get ahead while the two teams were tied at 20. On the game he had two tackles and two passes defensed, but he made every one of those count. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

Tyler Polumbus

I'm giving my game ball to Tyler Polumbus. Our team had one problem in this game: the offense. The offense had one problem: Michael Schofield. Tyler came in with Manning and the offense instantly changed to a well oiled machine that churned out production drive after drive. We ran to the right side with success. More importantly, we pass blocked at RT with success. Well done, Tyler. Thanks for helping us get that #1 seed. - Sadaraine

Honorable Mention - Brock Osweiler

For a young quarterback to be benched in a game where he was actually playing well while everyone else on offense was stinking up the place, it's got to be tough. Brock Osweiler has to be sitting there thinking "how did this just happen"? I don't blame him, but he is saying all the right things for a guy in the worst possible position now.

My hope is that he understands that, ultimately, this is still Peyton's team in 2015. That is something even us fans temporarily forgot along the way.

The good news is that he was able to go out there and prove to the players in the locker room that when the time comes, he can be that guy. For a seven game starter, he showed incredible poise and competitive drive. I'll be perfectly okay to see the Broncos roll with the Brocket Launcher in 2016. - Tim Lynch