Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton faced some early struggles against the Denver Broncos defense, but recovered nicely to lead the Bengals to a 37-28 win and to the team’s fourth straight playoff appearance.
Dalton overthrew his receiver, A.J. Green in the first quarter and the ball was caught by the Broncos’ Aqib Talib, who ran it back 33 yards for a touchdown.
Dalton settled down and finished the game completing 17-26 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns and that one interception.
The Bengals running game gave them the edge Monday night. As a team, they finished with 207 total rushing yards, with rookie running back Jeremy Hill leading the way with 147 yards and a touchdown.
Peyton Manning had a rough night in the rain. He threw a season-high four interceptions, including a game-changing interception to Dre Kirkpatrick, who ran it back for a touchdown in the closing minutes of the game.
"I shouldn't have thrown it," said Manning. "Four interceptions, you're not going to beat many good football teams."
Kirkpatrick’s interception came with 2:41 left in the game and it sealed the deal for the Bengals.
"I'm not saying I knew he was going to do that," Kirkpatrick said. "The guy changes plays. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When he came back to my side, I was waiting for the ball."
The win sets the Bengals (10-4-1) up for a chance at the AFC North title, when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.
The loss takes away home-field advantage throughout the playoffs from the Broncos (11-4), and now it belongs to the New England Patriots.