Broncos secure play-off place

Brandon McManus turned from villain to hero as the Denver Broncos beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17 in overtime to reach the play-offs.

The Broncos kicker missed a field goal with four seconds remaining in regulation play, but his 37-yarder was the only score of the extra 15 minutes as Denver's defence stifled Cincinnati's attempts to claim victory.

That win looked a long way off during a first half that proved frustrating for the home side, who fell 7-0 behind midway through the opening quarter.

AJ McCarron, starting again at quarterback for the Bengals in the absence of the injured Andy Dalton, hooked up with No 1 receiver AJ Green for a five-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

They made it 14-0 four minutes into the second quarter when wide receiver Mohamed Sanu came in for a wildcat play and rushed for a six-yard touchdown.

McManus kicked a 23-yard field goal to put the Broncos on the board just before half-time and they cut the deficit to four points less than five minutes after the interval when Brock Osweiler and Emmanuel Sanders combined for their first touchdown.

Denver claimed the lead early in the final period when CJ Anderson broke through for a 39-yard touchdown run, but Mike Nugent levelled the scores with a 52-yard field goal.

The Broncos had a final chance to put the seal on victory before overtime when they put McManus in position for a 45-yard shot at goal, but he almost shanked the ball to the derision of the home crowd.

Osweiler led Denver on a decent drive to open overtime, and McManus converted on his second chance from 37 yards, but their failure to score a touchdown meant the Bengals would have one final drive.

However that lasted only two plays as McCarron fumbled the snap and DeMarcus Ware recovered for Denver to end the game and leave destiny in their own hands.

The Broncos (11-4) will win the AFC West, and claim a first round bye, with a home victory over the San Diego Chargers next Sunday, while the Bengals cannot now claim the No 1 seed in the AFC and need a Broncos defeat to secure an extra week off.