For the 38th time in his career, Peyton Manning led his team to a fourth-quarter comeback win. It didn't have the dramatics of many of his prior come-from-behind wins, but the Hall-of-Fame quarterback methodically moved the offense against the Bengals defense to seal up a 31-23 win. It was a game that Denver led nearly the entire way, but a Manning interception provided Cincinnati a brief lead at the start of the fourth quarter. That didn't last long, however, as No. 18 quickly responded with a touchdown drive to push the Broncos ahead and deliver their third straight win.
It was an impressive performance in all three phases for the Broncos. The defense kept Cincinnati out of the end zone in the first half, and yielded the go-ahead Bengals touchdown only after Manning handed Cincy excellent field position. Special teams also got in on the act for Denver, as the ridiculously fast Trindon Holliday took the second half opening kick 105 yards to the house. The former LSU track star is well-known for his speed, and he found a seam in the first 20 yards, kicked it outside, and went in untouched for a Denver two-touchdown lead.
Coming off a Bye Week, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals desperately needed a win to snap a three-game losing streak and stay in the hunt during the second half of the season. They responded to the kick return with a three-minute touchdown drive to get back in it, and then capitalized on the Manning interception deep in Denver territory.
But Manning would ensure the lead lasted less than three minutes, marching the Broncos down the field on a five-play, 80-yard drive to put Denver back in front, 24-20. As he did all day, Manning found Eric Decker over the middle of the field to quickly pick up 30 yards. Two plays later, Adam Jones was whistled for pass interference on Demaryius Thomas in the left corner of the end zone. That put Denver right on the doorstep and on a designed rollout, Manning found Joel Dreessen in the back of the end zone and the Broncos were back on top.
Andy Dalton was picked off on the Bengals ensuing possession, and Denver would lock up the win with another fourth-quarter touchdown. The Broncos salted away the clock with Willis McGahee, but went to the air with Manning hitting Decker in the corner for his third touchdown of the day.
Decker was the primary target for Manning all day, hauling in nine catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Manning finished the day completing 27 of 35 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other sideline, Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green had productive days against the Broncos defense. Gresham had six catches for 108 yards while Green added seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
But did they cover?
Denver was favored by 5.5 points in most places, and they came through over the final 12 minutes to cover.
Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas injured his leg on a big 45-yard pickup. He limped off the field but did return before the end of the first half.