Denver looked like it was heading to overtime when the Cincinnati Bengals scored with 41 seconds remaining. But the snap on the extra point was wide and went through holder Kyle Larson's hands and the Broncos held on to a 24-23 victory.
"When I saw it happen, I was like 'You've got to be kidding me,'" tight end Stephen Alexander said.
The Broncos might have a playoff berth clinched by the time they take the field next Sunday against San Francisco. The Broncos clinch a playoff berth with one Jets loss and a Jaguars win over the Chiefs next week.
Of course, the Broncos want to wrap up a playoff berth with another win. They've felt they have been in a must-win situation for the past two weeks.
"We knew we were going to have to win this game to keep our playoff hopes alive," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We battled all game."
One of the big keys to the Broncos being in a spot to clinch a playoff berth is the play of Cutler, who had another impressive game. He had a couple of touchdown passes in the first half, but his best moments came in the third quarter during a 99-yard drive that gave the Broncos the lead for good.
With the Broncos backed up at their own 1-yard line after the Bengals downed a punt, Cutler was at ease.
"He's been like that from day one," tight end Stephen Alexander said. "He's calm in the huddle. So it doesn't surprise me. But it was huge."
The Broncos got some breathing room with a 14-yard run by Mike Bell, then Cutler lofted a pass to tight end Tony Scheffler for 25 yards. He hit David Kircus for 18 yards later in the drive, and a 17-yard pass to Javon Walker on third and 11 to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Bell.
"I didn't do a whole lot that drive, to tell you the truth," Cutler said. "We were just running the ball so well right there."
The Broncos would probably rate Cutler's contribution a little higher. Cutler, who was making his fourth career start, has made incredible strides since his first start. Cutler threw an interception on Denver's first play, but bounced back to complete 12 of 23 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
He became the first rookie and second player in NFL history, joining Mark Rypien, to throw multiple touchdown passes in each of his first four games.
"This guy is something special," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
The Broncos got plenty of luck in Sunday's win, but they'll take it. Cincinnati had four turnovers, Carson Palmer missed many open receivers and a 75-yard touchdown was taken off the board because of an illegal motion penalty.
But in the end, the Broncos knew they were one win -- or maybe some help -- away from going to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
"When you play hard, good things happen," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "Obviously, a little luck enters there."
PLAYER NOTES --CB Darrent Williams returned to the lineup after missing last week's game with a toe injury. Williams got an interception on Cincinnati's first drive. He sat out Cincinnati's last drive because of back spasms.
--TE Tony Scheffler continued his strong finish to his rookie season. Scheffler, a favorite target of rookie quarterback Jay Cutler, caught a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Cincinnati.
--CB Domonique Foxworth was treated for hyperventilation after Sunday's game. He was having trouble breathing after the game and laid down. He was attended to by the training staff as the Broncos players looked on. He was fine and didn't have to go to the hospital.
--WR Javon Walker injured his wrist in the third quarter of Sunday's
game. He returned a few plays later with the wrist taped and shouldn't
miss any time.
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