What a game. Even the casual NFL fan with no vested interest in either the Cincinnati Bengals or the Denver Broncos had to sit back and say that that was one of the most entertaining match-ups of the 2014 season. The back and forth between both teams was wild and most of the plays in it were of the momentous ilk.
We're listing the biggest Bengals plays of the game, so vote on a winner and sound off on why you chose that particular play!
Jeremy Hill's 85-Yard Touchdown Run In First Quarter: After a potentially devastating pick-six thrown by Andy Dalton, the Bengals offense took the field once again to try and regain their composure. Hue Jackson's crew went conservative on first down with a hand-off to Hill, which then quickly turned electric. Hill kicked off a defender that had him in the backfield and weaved his way through other would-be tacklers for an 85-yard touchdown run.
Jeremy Hill with an 85 yard touchdown run. Bengals tie the game at seven. https://t.co/fVWc82rKI5— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 23, 2014
Reggie Nelson's Second Quarter Interception: The Bengals defense was shutting down Peyton Manning and the Denver offense in the first half, and were clinging to a 10-7 lead. Following a Bengals drive that culminated in a Mike Nugent field goal, the Broncos offense took the field and Cincinnati made them pay almost immediately. On a second and five from the Denver 25-yard line, Manning fluttered a pass to the sideline intended for tight end Julius Thomas. The Bengals' veteran safety swooped into the picture and wrestled the ball away for an interception. It led to a Bengals touchdown.
Jermaine Gresham's Two-Yard Touchdown Catch: After Nelson's interception, Cincinnati's offense was in business. After three running plays that netted two first downs--both by Andy Dalton--the Bengals set up from the Broncos two-yard line on first down. Dalton used play-action a floated a pretty pass over a Broncos linebacker to Jermaine Gresham, giving the Bengals a then-ten-point lead.
Mike Nugent's 49-Yard Field Goal Before Halftime: After another Broncos punt, the Bengals received the ball with four and a half minutes left in the first half. Thanks to a couple of big plays on the ground and through the air by Giovani Bernard, the Bengals strung together a ten-play drive that led to a 49-yard field goal attempt with just over a minute left. Nugent eked it in through the uprights and gave the Bengals a big boost going into the locker room at halftime.
Adam Jones' 80-Yard Kickoff Return: Peyton Manning looked like the familiar surgeon after halftime and led the Broncos to a touchdown. The Bengals' once-commanding 13-point lead was suddenly cut to just six. On the ensuing kickoff, the electric Jones bobbed and weaved his way to an 80-yard return to the Broncos' 27-yard line (do the math on how deep he was when he began the return). It set up an opportunity for Cincinnati to respond in a big way. Old friend of the Bengals, Andre Caldwell, was the one who saved a touchdown by Jones.
Giovani Bernard's 22-yard Touchdown Reception In Third Quarter: After a renewed Manning charged his team out to a needed touchdown drive to start the third quarter, and after Jones made his dazzling return, the offense faced a third-and-five. Dalton dropped back, scrambled away from pressure and found Bernard getting away from a linebacker. The second-year back caught it, broke a tackle and took it up the sideline for a big response touchdown.
Adam Jones' Fourth Quarter Interception: After two more touchdowns by the Broncos, the Bengals were suddenly down a point after dominating a good portion of the game. Denver had the ball again and were set to grab the game by the throat. On second and eleven, Manning floated another pass to the sideline, this time to Demaryius Thomas. Jones cut in front of him for the interception and gave the ball back to the Bengals. It didn't lead to any points, but it stopped the momentum that the Broncos offensive machine was building.
Brandon Tate's 49-Yard Punt Return: After a Broncos three-and-out, Tate retrieved a punt at his own 39-yard line. He broke a tackle and screamed up the sideline for 49 yards to set the Bengals up on the Denver 12-yard line. It led to a lead-changing field goal.
Dre Kirkpatrick's Pick-Six: The Broncos received the ball with about four minutes left, setting up the typical Manning come-from-behind narrative. He had thrown two interceptions to that point and surely a fourth wasn't coming, right? Wrong. On a third-and-one, Manning dropped back to throw and again looked to the sideline for Demaryius Thomas. Kirkpatrick jumped in front of a ball that was rain-soaked and took it to the house, giving the Bengals a nine-point lead.
Dre Kirkpatrick with the pick-six with 2:50 remaining in the game. Bengals take a 37-28 lead. https://t.co/AC1tku3kcm— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 23, 2014