Bengals punish sloppy Manning to clinch playoff spot

Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:42am EST
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(Reuters) - The Cincinnati Bengals intercepted Peyton Manning four times to clinch a playoff berth with a big-play filled 37-28 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday.

Playing in pouring rain, the Bengals staged a fourth-quarter recovery after blowing a 13-point lead to earn a fourth straight trip to the post-season.

"This one was big. We knew what we were up against... at home, playing on Monday Night in prime time," Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton told reporters.

"Our defense played great, especially when it counted."

Dre Kirkpatrick caught two interceptions for Cincinnati, who also enjoyed a big day on kick returns. The Bengals (10-4-1) can now seal the AFC North Division with a season-finale win against Pittsburgh next week.

Denver (11-4), who had already cinched the AFC West, was hoping to maintain their push to enter the playoffs as the conference top seed but the loss conceded the number one spot to the New England Patriots.

Manning threw for 311 yards but was unable to connect with his wide receivers when it mattered most.

"I had four interceptions, you're not going to beat very many good football teams (that way)," Manning said. "We have to find a way to learn from this and play better next week."


Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports