The Cincinnati Bengals intercepted Peyton Manning four times to clinch a playoff berth with a big-play filled 37-28 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday.
Playing in pouring rain, the Bengals staged a fourth-quarter recovery after blowing a 13-point lead to earn a fourth straight trip to the post-season.
Dre Kirkpatrick caught two interceptions for Cincinnati, who also enjoyed a big day on kick returns. The Bengals (10-4-1) can now seal the AFC North Division with a season-finale win against Pittsburgh next week.
Denver (11-4), who had already cinched the AFC West, was hoping to maintain their push to enter the playoffs as the conference top seed but the loss conceded the number one spot to the New England Patriots.
Manning threw for 311 yards but was unable to connect with his wide receivers when it mattered most.
In a wild affair, the Broncos woke up in the second half, with Manning tossing two third-quarter touchdowns to give the visitors a 28-27 edge.
Brandon Tate lifted the Bengals midway through the fourth with a 49-yard punt return that helped them move back in front on Mike Nugent’s 23-yard field goal.
The Cincinnati defense struck the decisive blow in the final minutes as Kirkpatrick intercepted Manning and returned it 30 yards to help push the Bengals nine points ahead of a demoralised Denver team.