Broncos seal playoff berth with OT win over Bengals
DENVER — Denver clinched a place in the NFL playoffs with a 20-17 overtime win against Cincinnati on Monday, with DeMarcus Ware beating Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron to a fumbled snap to seal the victory.
The Broncos (11-4) overcame a 14-0 first-half deficit and clinched a fifth consecutive playoff berth, while Cincinnati (11-4) blew a chance to earn a bye in the playoffs.
Denver can earn the top seed in the AFC with a win over San Diego and a loss by New England at Miami in next weekend’s finale of the regular season.
Denver was in danger of becoming the first team since the 1970 football merger to miss the playoffs after starting a season 10-2.
Broncos fans would have feared the worst after kicker Brandon McManus shanked a 45-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation time, sending the game to overtime.
Denver won the toss and elected to receive in overtime. They drove 60 yards in 13 plays, led by quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was making his sixth straight start in place of the injured Peyton Manning.
McManus then redeemed himself by splitting the uprights from 37 yards out 5 minutes into the extra period.
Cincinnati had a chance to respond, but on second-and-10 from the Bengals 33-yard line, center Russell Bodine’s shotgun snap sailed past McCarron and Ware beat him to the loose football.