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Denver at Cincinnati

Broncos steal one from Bengals on late tipped pass

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CINCINNATI -- Brandon Stokley caught the deflected pass, turned and looked upfield. Nobody stood between him and the end zone.

Unbelievable!

  Stokley on the winning catch

In the time it takes to sprint the length of the field, Stokley ran Denver out of a crushing loss and into franchise lore. His 87-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left on Sunday provided a 12-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, who are going to need a long time to recover from this one.

"I've never seen anything like that," Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "I've played football since I was 7 or 8, and I've not seen that."

No one had. It was the longest game-winning play from scrimmage in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history, according to the league.

A half hour after it ended, a Bengals fan in an orange Rey Maualuga jersey sat alone in the otherwise empty expanse of green seats behind the end zone, staring at the field, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

One weird bounce had changed everything.

"You know you need a miracle, and that's basically what we got," Stokley said. "When I scored, I just remember it being quiet, and that was a good feeling."

The Broncos felt sick after Cedric Benson's 1-yard run put the Bengals up 7-6 with 38 seconds left. No one felt worse than quarterback Kyle Orton, whose poor judgment had given the Bengals their chance to pull ahead.

Down to desperation, Orton threw a sideline pass that was nearly intercepted. The next play was a throw to the other sideline for Brandon Marshall, who was blanketed. Cornerback Leon Hall cut in front, went up for the ball and tipped it into the air.

The carom went to Stokley, who couldn't believe his luck as he headed for the end zone, running sideways a few steps to kill time before finally crossing in.

"So much went through my head," the receiver said. "I just thought: Get what you can. My mind was racing. What should I do? I felt myself pulling away."

Bengals defenders stopped and dropped their heads, unable to fathom the wacky ending. It will go down among the Bengals' worst, along with the time they failed to run out the clock and let San Francisco's Joe Montana throw a winning touchdown pass to Jerry Rice on the game's final play in 1987.

That one was the result of a risky coaching decision. This one came off a bad defensive play -- Hall didn't knock the ball down, and none of the safeties was looking for a possible deflection.

"I've got to knock it to the ground," Hall said, "either that or pick it off."

Instead, the game was left up to chance.

"I've seen some things in football, but never anything quite like this," Broncos running back Correll Buckhalter said.

Orton put the Broncos in line for a kick-to-the-stomach loss in coach Josh McDaniels' regular-season debut. Nursing a dislocated index finger on his right hand, he did just enough to get the Broncos a 6-0 lead heading into the closing minutes.

Then, he had a brain-freeze moment on a warm afternoon, taking a sack that pushed Denver out of range for what could have been a third and clinching field goal by Matt Prater, who had connected from 48 and 50 yards.

Still, the odds seemed to be in Denver's favor. The Bengals had only one first down in the second half against an overhauled defense. Shut down all day, Palmer was perfect in the clutch, completing all six passes on a 91-yard drive to Benson's touchdown run.

Turned out to be just a tease.

"The funniest, weirdest, craziest ending I've ever experienced in football," Benson said.

Tell it to the lone fan in the stands.

Notes

  • Orton had stitches removed from his index finger after the game and hopes to be able to play next week without wearing a glove. He finished 17 for 28 for 243 yards.
  • Marshall, who was suspended during training camp for grousing about not getting traded, had a team-high four catches for 27 yards. He dropped the first ball thrown to him.
  • Broncos coaches are 9-0 in their regular season debuts, not counting interim coaches.
  • Palmer, who missed the last three preseason games with a sprained left ankle, was 21 of 33 for 247 yards.
  • A bad snap botched a Bengals field-goal attempt.
  • Cincinnati ran the Wildcat on fourth-and-2 to keep a drive going.
  • The crowd of 62,831 was roughly 3,000 less than capacity.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Sun. Sept. 13Final
Denver
(1-0)
033612
00077
BroncosBengals
Pass: K. Orton (17-28, 243) C. Palmer (21-33, 247)
Rush: C. Buckhalter (8-46) C. Benson (21-76)
Rec: B. Stokley (1-87) C. Ochocinco (5-89)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
None
2ND QUARTER
FGMatt Prater 48 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 9 plays, 52 yards in 1:48.
3RD QUARTER
FGMatt Prater 50 Yd, 0:14. Drive: 5 plays, 34 yards in 2:15.
4TH QUARTER
TDCedric Benson, 1 Yd run (Shayne Graham kick is good), 0:38. Drive: 11 plays, 91 yards in 5:43.
TDBrandon Stokley, 87 Yd pass from Kyle Orton (Kyle Orton 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Brandon Marshall failed), 0:11. Drive: 2 plays, 87 yards in 0:27.
Players of the Game

C. Benson
Rush 21
Yds 76
Avg 3.6
TD 1
Buffalo

K. Orton
Att 28
Comp 17
Yds 243
TD 1
 
Denver
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
K. Orton17/2824310
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Buckhalter846014
K. Moreno81908
L. Jordan2504
K. Orton1303
P. Hillis1202
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Stokley187187
D. Graham340020
T. Scheffler129029
B. Marshall42709
J. Gaffney325021
E. Royal218011
C. Buckhalter21107
P. Hillis1606
Cincinnati
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Palmer21/3324702
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Benson2176120
C. Ochocinco1808
B. Leonard2605
C. Palmer1202
K. Huber1000
B. Scott1-60-6
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Ochocinco589034
A. Caldwell654014
C. Benson432019
B. Leonard224018
C. Henry118018
D. Coats116016
L. Coles111011
J. Foschi1303
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
SD 24 Final
OAK 20
BUF 24 Final
NE 25
CHI 15 Final
GB 21
STL 0 Final
SEA 28
WAS 17 Final
NYG 23
SF 20 Final
ARI 16
DAL 34 Final
TB 21
DET 27 Final
NO 45
JAC 12 Final
IND 14
NYJ 24 Final
HOU 7
MIN 34 Final
CLE 20
PHI 38 Final
CAR 10
KC 24 Final
BAL 38
MIA 7 Final
ATL 19
TEN 10 Final
PIT 13