DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos celebrates their 26 to 16 win over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
KUSA - With certainly his most challenging regular season behind him, Champ Bailey withstood the tests and is going to the Super Bowl for the first time in his 15-year career.
Bailey, who joined Denver in 2004 after five seasons in Washington, played a career-low five games this year, suffering through a foot injury sustained in the preseason.
"Maybe in the morning," Bailey said when asked if it had sunk in yet, "but we're going to enjoy this one. We don't have but two weeks to get it out of our system and get ready to go again. That's all that we got to concentrate on right now."
Questions have surrounded Bailey all season. Was the 35-year-old past his prime? Would the Broncos be better if they just kept him on the sidelined?
But in Sunday's 26-16 win against New England, Bailey proved he still belongs on the field.
"Well, I knew I would come back. You might not have known, but I knew I'd be back at some point," Bailey said. "My coaches, teammates they never gave up on me. They knew I'd be back to 100 percent at some point and here I am.
"I'm playing probably my best football of the year because I haven't played much (laughing) and I'm just looking forward to the next one. Just make sure my body is right for the next game."
Said quarterback Peyton Manning: "Like I said, it's hard to get to the Super Bowl. It's hard to win it, but I'm telling you it's hard to get there. I'm happy for Champ. I know he's excited. He played well today, I'm glad that he's back out there on the field. He's battled through some injuries and has stayed at it and been committed to his rehab. I know he's excited and I'm certainly happy for him."
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