Broncos vs. Bengals 2014 final score: 3 things we learned from Cincinnati’s 37-28 win
The Cincinnati Bengals took down the Denver Broncos on Monday, 37-28.
They almost squandered the lead, but the Cincinnati Bengals held on to take down the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, 37-28. The Broncos were down by one score with under three minutes to go when quarterback Peyton Manning was intercepted by Dre Kirkpatrick, who returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. That put the game out of reach, giving the Bengals the win.
Cincinnati took a 20-7 lead into halftime, thanks to a pair of touchdowns, including an 85-yard run by Jeremy Hill and a 2-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham. Mike Nugent also made a pair of long field goals, from 49 yards and 37 yards. Denver started to bring things back though, with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter. But Cincinnati got things together in the end, holding on for the lead.
With the win, the Bengals have punched their own ticket into the postseason. They’re currently on top in the AFC North, and are guaranteed a wild card spot at the worst. Regardless of Monday’s results, their Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was always going to be for the AFC North crown. This win simply means they don’t have to worry about potentially missing the playoffs.
It also creates an unexpected scenario in which they can secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, provided they beat the Steelers in Week 17 and the Broncos fall to the Oakland Raiders. Obviously, that’s not altogether likely given what the Raiders have done this season.
Denver can clinch their own first-round bye if they beat the Raiders in that game. They lost out on home-field advantage by losing in Monday’s game, as the New England Patriots have now clinched the top seed.
Three things we learned:
1) The Bengals are pretty much set at running back
It was slightly surprising when the Bengals used a second-round pick on Jeremy Hill this offseason, given that they got Giovani Bernard with a second-round pick in 2013. Bernard put up 695 yards in his rookie season and seemed well on his way to building on that this season, but Hill has definitely eclipsed him. On Monday, it was the running back duo that made Cincinnati’s offense function, despite the Broncos ranked second in the league against the run coming into the game.
Hill had over 100 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, while Bernard added a solid chunk behind him. Even Dalton had solid yardage running. Hill’s 85-yard touchdown came right after Dalton threw a pick six, giving the Broncos the lead. Much of the focus on this team, at least in the media, is on Dalton, but this running game is likely what will carry them in the coming years.
2) Aqib Talib is as good as advertised
Aqib Talib generally goes under the radar as far as top cornerbacks are concerned, but he had a big game on Monday. Going up against A.J. Green for a solid portion of said game, Talib finished with multiple passes defensed and a big interception returned 33 yards for a touchdown. That interception is here, and it’s a good one:
3) Emmanuel Sanders is capable of making ridiculous catches
While the above interception was pretty great by Talib, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had the best catch of the game by far. Granted, it was also a pretty incredible throw from Peyton Manning, dropping the football right where it needed to be to avoid the coverage of Terrance Newman.
Sanders manages to get the one hand on it, and traps it with his shoulder and possibly even his chin a little bit. Sanders caught another pass two plays later, for 9 yards, and then another one on the following play, a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Broncos within one score.