Final

Bengals 22

(1-1, 1-1 away)

Broncos 24

(1-1, 1-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, September 18, 2011

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 0 3 12 722
DEN 7 3 7 724

Top Performers

Passing: A. Dalton (CIN) - 332 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: W. McGahee (DEN) - 28 CAR, 101 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: J. Simpson (CIN) - 4 REC, 136 YDS

Kyle Orton's 2 TD passes help John Fox get first win in Denver

ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- The Broncos had just enough healthy players to hold on for John Fox's first win in Denver. Even if their lineup was left looking like a preseason game, when fans wonder, "Who's that guy?"

The Broncos staved off a last-minute drive by the Cincinnati Bengals to hold on for a 24-22 win Sunday despite losing two more key players to injuries.

Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker, who atoned for a big fumble with nine receptions for 113 yards in his first career start. Willis McGahee ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in his heaviest workload in three seasons.

"It didn't always look pretty -- it couldn't look pretty with the way our personnel was," Orton said. "We had nine or 10 guys that are usually on the field that are out. ... It was tough sledding out there but we stuck together."

The injury epidemic grew to 10 players, including a half dozen starters and two more who were expected to start before being sidelined in the offseason.

"The next man up is the best man up," linebacker Joe Mays said, "and whenever your number is called you have to go out there and execute whatever the coach asks you to do. Every single player on the team deserves to be here and you never know when your number is called."

Next man up? How about last man standing?

Even Tim Tebow's No. 15 was called Sunday -- not to replace Orton at quarterback as his fans have been harping about, but to line up as a slot receiver after Eddie Royal went down with a strained left groin shortly after rookie tight end Julius Thomas went out with an injured right ankle.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team," said Tebow, who was never targeted in the passing game but did his best to block. "If they ask me to go out there and run some routes and block some people, I'll go do it."

Orton said he wouldn't have hesitated throwing it Tebow's way. It just didn't come to that.

"Oh, he's an athlete," Decker agreed. "He can catch some passes."

However, Tebow's appearance at wideout was not just an on-the-fly thought.

Team sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Tebow's "debut" at receiver came during practice before the Broncos' game against the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, which Tebow did not end up playing in. Rather than stand around during practice, he asked coaches for permission to play wide receiver on the scout team.

Then, the sources said, Denver coaches gave the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback a heads-up during this past week that he could be called on when it became apparent to the Broncos' staff they would be short on wideouts due to injuries.

Once Royal was hurt, Tebow played wideout in selective spots Sunday and even donned receiving gloves on both hands.

The Broncos (1-1) beat the Bengals (1-1) with a heavy diet of the I-formation consisting of two wide receivers, two tight ends and two backs.

Andy Dalton showed no ill effects from a bruised right wrist and forearm, throwing for 332 yards and hitting fellow rookie A.J. Green 10 times for 124 yards and Jerome Simpson four times for 136 yards.

After scoring on four straight possessions, the Bengals looked as though they had caught a big break when Britton Colquitt's 82-yard punt was called back because Broncos gunner Chris Harris didn't get back inbounds quickly enough. On the re-kick, the Bengals got the ball at the Denver 45-yard line instead of their own 11 with 5½ minutes left.

Rather than try a 53-yard field goal, however, the Bengals went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Denver 36 even though they were 1 for 11 on third-down conversions. Green sneaked into the right flat, but Robert Ayers sniffed out the naked bootleg and drove Dalton into the ground as his pass fell incomplete.

"It was the best decision I could make at that point" was all Bengals coach Marvin Lewis had to say about not sending out kicker Mike Nugent, who was good from 45, 37 and 23 yards in Denver's thin air where Sebastian Janikowski tied the NFL record last week with a 63-yarder.

Denver couldn't run out the clock after Ryan Clady's second holding call, and Cincinnati got the ball back at its 5 with 2:25 left and no timeouts remaining.

The Bengals reached midfield at the minute mark, but nickel back Jonathan Wilhite, playing for Champ Bailey, sacked Dalton. Then another backup -- Wesley Woodyard, playing for D.J. Williams -- made a diving deflection of a pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham.

That brought up fourth-and-19 from the Bengals 43, and Dalton's desperation pass went out of bounds with 23 seconds left.

The Broncos were missing five starters at kickoff in Bailey, Williams, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and tailback Knowshon Moreno. They were quickly joined on the sideline by Thomas.

Royal limped off the field in the second quarter.

After Decker's second TD catch, a 52-yarder, gave Denver a 24-15 lead, Von Miller recorded his first sack as a pro on the game's next snap. With Mile High rocking, Dalton hit Simpson over the middle for an 84-yard gain that set up Green's tiptoe touchdown catch that made it 24-22 early in the fourth quarter.

That was Denver's last slip-up.

"This is one of the best wins that I've ever been a part of," Orton said. "This is a great win to battle the way we did, just to have a total team win."

Game notes


The Bengals lost for the ninth straight time in Denver, where Cincy hasn't won since 1975. ... McGahee, who hadn't carried the ball more than 20 times in a game since November 2008, rushed 28 times for 101 yards. ... The Bengals lost WR Jordan Shipley to a left knee injury.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CIN
DEN
1st Downs1819
Passing 1st downs
148
Rushing 1st downs
29
1st downs from Penalties
22
3rd down efficiency
1-115-12
4th down efficiency
0-20-0
Total Plays6363
Total Yards382318
Yards per play6.15.0
Total Drives1313
Passing310187
Comp - Att
27-4115-25
Yards per pass
7.67.5
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks - Yards Lost
2-222-8
Rushing72131
Rushing Attempts
2036
Yards per rush
3.63.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-41-2
Penalties7-697-55
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession29:4530:15

Passing Leaders

CINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Dalton27/413328.1202-22
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Orton15/251957.8202-8

Rushing Leaders

CINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Benson16593.7014
Scott2105.009
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
McGahee281013.6112
Ball6284.7017

Receiving Leaders

CINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Simpson413634.00849
Green1012412.412614
DENRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Decker511322.62529
Larsen3237.70103

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCINDEN
denTD06:30Willis McGahee 1 Yd Run (Matt Prater Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERCINDEN
cinFG06:33Mike Nugent 45 Yd 37
denFG00:12Matt Prater 34 Yd 310
THIRD QUARTERCINDEN
denTD10:57Eric Decker 25 Yd Pass From Kyle Orton (Matt Prater Kick) 317
cinFG08:54Mike Nugent 37 Yd 617
cinTD03:36Andre Caldwell 10 Yd Pass From Andy Dalton (Two-Point Conversion Failed) 1217
cinFG01:05Mike Nugent 23 Yd 1517
FOURTH QUARTERCINDEN
denTD13:30Eric Decker 52 Yd Pass From Kyle Orton (Matt Prater Kick) 1524
cinTD11:17A.J. Green 5 Yd Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick) 2224

Research Notes

Punter of the Day Britton Colquitt, Broncos Colquitt edged out our Week 1 choice, Andy Lee of the 49ers, because he was terrific when it counted most. Colquitt had a great day overall against the Bengals, averaging 55.8 yards on 6 punts, with a net of 51.0 yards. But most notably, Colquitt had 3 long punts in the 4th quarter, with the Broncos clinging to a 24-22 lead. He hit a 59-yarder that netted 50 yards with just under 10 minutes left, a 57-yarder from deep in his own end zone (net: 41 yards) with just under six minutes left, and a 55-yarder to the Bengals 10, with no return with two-and-a-half minutes to play. The Bengals did not score on any of those last 3 possessions. Also worth noting: Colquitt had an 82-yard punt wiped out by a penalty. Colquitt, for those unfamiliar with his story, is part of an NFL punting family. His brother Dustin punts for the Chiefs. His father Craig was a two-time Super Bowl champ for the Steelers. And his uncle Jimmy punted for the Seahawks.

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