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Cininnati Bengals intercept Peyton Manning four times in 37-28 victory that clinches playoff spot

Giovani Bernard ran for 36 yards and caught five passes for 45 and a touchdown for Bengals. (Associated Press)
Giovani Bernard ran for 36 yards and caught five passes for 45 and a touchdown for Bengals. (Associated Press)
Joe Kay Associated Press

CINCINNATI – With everything on the line, the Cincinnati Bengals picked off Peyton Manning – twice, no less – and ran back into the NFL playoffs.

Dre Kirkpatrick returned Manning’s third interception for a touchdown in the closing minutes Monday night, completing a fourth-quarter rally that gave Cincinnati a 37-28 victory over the Denver Broncos and a spot in the playoffs.

Kirkpatrick’s 30-yard return with 2:41 left capped a game of big plays – long runs, big kick returns and two interceptions run back for scores. With 67 seconds left, Kirkpatrick picked off Manning again to clinch it.

The Bengals (10-4-1) secured a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season, a franchise record. They’ll play in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, with the winner taking the AFC North title.

Manning rallied the Broncos (11-4) to three touchdowns in the third quarter and a lead, but came up empty in the closing minutes and finished with a season-high four interceptions. The Denver loss gave New England home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC.

The AFC West champions have concerns about Manning’s health. He was limited in practice by a strained right thigh.

Denver scored 21 points in the third quarter, with Manning throwing a pair of touchdowns to Emmanuel Sanders.

With a chance to pull off his 51st game-winning drive, Manning threw a sideline pass directly to Kirkpatrick, who ran it back untouched in the heavy rain.

Bengals 37, Broncos 28

Denver 7 0 21 0 28
Cincinnati 7 13 7 10 37

Den—Talib 33 interception return (Barth kick)

Cin—Hill 85 run (Nugent kick)

Cin—FG Nugent 37

Cin—Gresham 2 pass from Dalton (Nugent kick)

Cin—FG Nugent 49

Den—Anderson 1 run (Barth kick)

Cin—Bernard 22 pass from Dalton (Nugent kick)

Den—Sanders 4 pass from Manning (Barth kick)

Den—Sanders 5 pass from Manning (Barth kick)

Cin—FG Nugent 23

Cin—Kirkpatrick 30 interception return (Nugent kick)

A—66,107.

Den Cin
First downs 22 20
Total Net Yards 385 353
Rushes-yards 19-85 37-207
Passing 300 146
Punt Returns 3-14 3-72
Kickoff Returns 3-121 3-134
Interceptions Ret. 1-33 4-44
Comp-Att-Int 28-44-4 17-26-1
Sacked-Yards Lst 2-11 0-0
Punts 6-47.2 5-42.2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 6-72 7-45
Time of Poss. 28:22 31:38

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Denver, Anderson 18-83, Thompson 1-2. Cincinnati, Hill 22-147, Bernard 8-36, Dalton 6-25, Sanzenbacher 1-(minus 1).

PASSING—Denver, Manning 28-44-4-311. Cincinnati, Dalton 17-26-1-146.

RECEIVING—Denver, Anderson 8-55, D.Thomas 7-115, Sanders 6-70, Welker 4-30, J.Thomas 2-33, Tamme 1-8. Cincinnati, Gresham 9-62, Bernard 5-45, Sanu 1-16, Tate 1-12, Sanzenbacher 1-11.

MISSED FIELD GOALS—Denver, Barth 49 (WL).

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