Bengals QB Andy Dalton finally got a primetime win after months of ridicule for his previous failures in the spotlight.
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The Cincinnati Bengals upset the Denver Broncos 37-28 on Monday Night Football, clinching their fourth straight playoff berth.
The game started poorly for the Bengals with QB Andy Dalton throwing an INT-TD to Broncos CB Aqib Talib early in the first quarter. But on the ensuing Bengals possession, they scored almost immediately on an 85-yard run by rookie RB Jeremy Hill. The Bengals defense shut down Broncos QB Peyton Manning in the entire first half, not allowing a single scoring drive by the Broncos the entire time. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton led three scoring drives for two FGs and a TD to Jermaine Gresham, giving them a 20-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter the Broncos offense finally came alive with a trio of scoring drives by Peyton Manning and RB C. J. Anderson. Anderson scored early in the third quarter on a one-yard TD run. After a Bengals TD pass from Dalton to Giovanni Bernard, Peyton Manning led two scoring drives that all culminated in TD passes to WR Emmanuel Sanders to give them a 28-27 lead. In the fourth quarter the Bengals took the lead on a FG from PK Mike Nugent. With 2:41 left in the game, Peyton Manning tried to lead a scoring drive but was picked off by Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick who took it back for a TD, giving the Bengals the 37-28 win and sealing their spot in the playoffs.
With the win the Bengals have clinched a playoff berth for the 4th straight season – the first time in franchise history that has happened. The Bengals will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North title and a home playoff game on Sunday Night football next week.
With the loss the Broncos move to 11-4, falling out of contention for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Broncos are still in contention for the No. 2 overall seed, which they can get with a win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 17.