Broncos vs. Bengals: Denver's Biggest Winners and Losers from NFL Week 9
Trailing 20-17 following a 2-yard touchdown run by Benjarvus Green-Ellis early in the fourth quarter, Peyton Manning rallied his team with two touchdown passes in the quarter to earn his 38th-career fourth-quarter comeback win, despite throwing two interceptions, the second of which was a very poor decision.
The defense was tested in this game as Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 299 yards, but he was unable to make the plays he needed to at the end of the game.
Here is a look at the team's winners and losers from this game:
Running Game: The Broncos have had success running the ball lately, but that wasn't the case Sunday against the Bengals. They were able to pick up some tough first downs late in the game against a Bengals defense that couldn't stop it any longer, but as a team, they gained just 68 yards on 26 carries, which translates to just 2.6 yards per carry. Featured back Willis McGahee accounted for 66 yards on 23 attempts.
Champ Bailey: It's hard to put Bailey on this list, especially since he was able to come up with a crucial interception late in the game. But Dalton threw at him six times for 95 yards with a touchdown. AJ Green got the better of the matchup on Sunday, especially on the touchdown reception, a fade route in the corner of the end zone that Bailey appeared to not even see where the ball was.
Chris Kuper: After seeing the injury Kuper sustained in the season finale last year, it was hard to see Kuper limp off the field in the third quarter Sunday. The Broncos were backed up into their own end zone, and as they tried to come out with a run to McGahee, Kuper stayed on the field and had to be helped off by trainers. Hopefully, for Denver it's not serious, but he didn't return to the game.
Peyton Manning: Bengals cornerback Terrance Newman was able to victimize Manning with two interceptions, but those were about the only bad plays he made all game. Manning went 27-of-35 passing for 291 yards with three TD passes. He just missed his fifth-straight game with both 300 yards passing and three touchdowns. Manning looks very comfortable with this offense now, and everything he does pre-snap is very indicative of that. He knows right where to go with the ball and reads the defense perhaps better than anyone to ever play the position.
Eric Decker: With Manning in Denver, Eric Decker is quietly turning into one of the league's best wide receivers. He finished the day with eight catches for 99 yards with two scores. He made a terrific grab on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 3:36 to play in the game, reaching up over the aforementioned Newman and pulling the ball in.
Tony Carter: While Tracy Porter has sat out multiple games, Tony Carter and Chris Harris have filled in admirably in his absence. Carter isn't a very flashy player, but he has a knack for the ball and is always in good position. He had two pass deflections in this game and is becoming an integral part of the defense. Do the Broncos even need Porter?
Trindon Holliday: How long has it been since the Broncos made a big play in the return game? This was one of their biggest weaknesses heading into the season, and just weeks after bringing Holliday in off waivers from Houston, it didn't look like he'd be the answer either. But to open the second half, Holliday fielded the kickoff a few yards deep in his end zone and took it back 105 yards for a touchdown. This was the longest return in Broncos history. Maybe they've found something.
Von Miller: The Broncos pass rush seems to get better by the week, and the biggest reason is second-year linebacker Von Miller. To go along with his six tackles, he put Dalton down three times and now has nine sacks on the season.
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